The BBC announced on Monday March 13 the return to the air of ex-footballer Gary Lineker, one of the group’s most famous presenters, whose suspension on Friday following a tweet criticizing the government provoked indignant reactions. “Gary is an important part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to him, and I look forward to him presenting our show next weekend”BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement.
Gary Lineker, 62, presenter of hugely popular football show ‘Match of the Day’, was sacked on Friday for criticizing the Conservative government’s bill to prevent migrants arriving through the English Channel from applying for asylum in the United Kingdom, a project denounced to the UN. Very active on Twitter, where he has 8.8 million subscribers, he had denounced “a cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable, in a language not very different from that used by Germany in the 1930s”.
@a_webb @secrettory12 There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This… https://t.co/dbrWxNDvaK
This suspension had caused an outcry and led to the upheaval of the sports programs of the BBC. Several football broadcast consultants, such as former internationals Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, have decided to withdraw from their programs by “solidarity”.
On Monday, Tim Davie apologized. “The BBC is committed to respecting the impartiality which is in its charter and is committed to freedom of expression”, he wrote. The director of the public audiovisual giant announced an investigation carried out by an independent expert on the guidelines for the use of social networks, and in particular on the rules to be applied for presenters not working on the news.
This release also quotes Gary Lineker, who says he is ” happy “ that a solution has been found. “I support this investigation and I can’t wait to get back on the air”, he added. On Twitter, he thanked the people who supported him during “those surreal days” and reiterated that he fully assumed his words. Gary Lineker, who has taken in refugees himself, allowed himself “one last thought” : “As difficult as the past few days may have been, it just doesn’t compare to having to flee your home to escape persecution or war and seek refuge in a distant land. »
The footballer, author of 48 goals in the jersey of England until his retirement in 1994, is used to expressing his political positions on social networks, in particular against Brexit and in support of migrants.
His remarks had been strongly criticized by the government and the conservative newspapers. British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday that he wanted “The BBC retains its reputation for independence and impartiality”.
The BBC is regularly attacked by the conservatives, who accuse it in particular of having covered Brexit in a biased way and of being interested in the urban elites more than the working classes. A spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said ” satisfied “ that an agreement has been reached between the BBC and Gary Lineker, without forgetting that “The BBC has a responsibility to remain impartial”.
The opposition, for its part, criticized the BBC for having bowed to the pressure of power by suspending Mr. Lineker.