Gary Lineker Returns to BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’

BBC presenter Gary Lineker made a gentle return to live television on Saturday as he hosted TV coverage of FA Cup football but chose not to directly mention him. It was suspended recently for a tweet critical of the UK government’s migration policy.

Lineker was reinstated by the BBC on Monday after the public broadcaster its backup and reverse suspension of the former football great following the backlash and massive disruption to usual sports coverage last weekend.

62-year-old Lineker, a former star of the England national team and one of the BBC’s most popular presenters, back in the studio with former players Alan Shearer and Micah Richards ahead of Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final against Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.

“Alan, it’s great to be here,” Lineker said, his voice hoarse than usual, but he made no mention of the recent turmoil in his opening remarks.

Instead, it was Shearer who addressed the situation after he and a host of other football pundits and commentators refused to work for the BBC last weekend in solidarity with Lineker. As a result, several football shows have been cancelled, and the popular “Match of the Day” — featuring Premier League highlights — has been reduced from its usual 80 minutes to just 20 minutes of recording. match without any commentators or analysts.

Shearer said: “I just need to be clear and want to say how upset we are (because of) all the spectators who missed the show last weekend. “It is a really difficult situation for everyone involved. And through no fault of their own, some really great people in TV and radio have been put in an impossible situation. And that’s not fair. So it’s good to go back to normal life and talk about football again.”

Lineker replied: “Certainly. I echo those sentiments,” before shifting the focus to the upcoming game.

Lineker, who was known for his wit and frequent puns, had previously posted a photo on Twitter from the stadium with the comment: “Oh the joy of being allowed to stick with football”.

Lineker was suspended after he criticized the government’s new migration plan – aimed at preventing people from reaching the country in small boats via the English Channel – describing it on Twitter was “incredibly cruel” and called the government’s language “unlike the language Germany used in the 30s.”

The Conservative government called Lineker’s comparisons offensive and unacceptable, and some lawmakers said the BBC should fire him. Instead, the broadcaster said Lineker would “step back” until he agreed to keep his tweets within the BBC’s fair rules. But Lineker refused to retract his comments and critics accused the BBC of suppressing free speech.

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