LONDON — Top British TV host Gary Lineker will step back from presenting the flagship “Match of the Day” football show until a “clear position” is agreed on his social media usage, the BBC has announced, after a major row with Conservative MPs.
The footballer-turned-sports presenter has been embroiled in a days-long row over his tweets on Rishi Sunak’s proposals to tackle cross-Channel migration. Lineker claimed the language used to announce the bill was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”
Multiple Tory MPs and ministers have criticized Lineker, who is one of the BBC’s highest-paid employees. Critics argued his comments — and subsequent public arguments with ministers — breached the BBC’s strict impartiality rules.
Reacting publicly to the story for the first time, the broadcaster announced Friday that Lineker would step back from his presenting duties.
“The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines,” a BBC statement read.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media,” the statement read.
Lineker told reporters outside his home Thursday that he stood by his comments.
But in a sign that Lineker could return if he rowed back on his criticism, the BBC added: “We have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”