Gary Lineker said it was “great to be here” as he returned to the BBC after he was forced off-air last week in a scandal over his comparison of the government to the Nazis over its use of language regarding asylum seekers.
The Match of the Day star returned to the screen to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley this evening, having been suspended last week over his comments.
As the pre-match coverage began, Mr Lineker’s co-presenter Alan Shearer addressed the row, saying “how upset we were about all the audiences who missed out” after Match of the Day went ahead with no presenters.
He went on: “It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned. Through no fault of their own some really great people in TV and radio were put in impossible situations and that wasn’t fair.
“It’s good to get back to normality and talk about football again.”
Mr Linker said: “I echo those sentiments.”
Lineker back on the BBC
Former England football captain Gary Lineker returned to host the BBC’s flagship soccer show on Saturday, a week after his suspension for criticising government immigration policy caused a row over the broadcaster’s impartiality rules.
BBC managers reversed their decision to suspend Mr Lineker, the broadcaster’s highest-paid presenter, after his colleagues refused to work in solidarity last weekend, forcing it to air soccer matches without normal commentary.
The controversy shook the public broadcaster, which is funded by a levy on nearly all British households with televisions, and which often faces accusations of bias from across the political spectrum.
“It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned,” Mr Lineker‘s co-presenter Alan Shearer said in a short statement to viewers before the start of the BBC’s broadcast of an FA Cup quarter-final game between Burnley and Manchester City.
“And through no fault of their own, some really great people on TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation, and that wasn’t fair. So it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again,” Shearer said.
Mr Lineker said: “I echo those sentiments.”
That’s it for our live coverage tonight. You can read the full story here:
The presenter missed Match of the Day last week
Match of the Day airs without Gary Lineker
Presenter Mark Chapman is taking the host spot on tonight’s Match of the Day as longtime presenter Gary Lineker was as the Etihad for the FA Cup quarter-final.
“Before you ask i was booked for this weeks ago,” Mr Chapman joked as he introduced the programme, referring to Mr Lineker’s suspension last week over his criticism of the government.
The pundit was joined in the studio by former Wales player Ashley Williams and former Manchester United player Dion Dublin.
Protesters rallying against small boats bill back Lineker
The marches, organised by Stand Up To Racism and the STUC, were held in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on Saturday afternoon. Organisers said thousands of people took part in the action against racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, fascism and the far right.
Maria Frazier, 75, said she was protesting against the Government because she agreed with Gary Lineker’s comment comparing some of the language used around its immigration policies to those of 1930s Germany.
Speaking outside the BBC’s headquarters in central London, she said: “Lineker was right when he said there are shades of the German Reich in the methods that they’re using.
“People are turning out because they’re extremely angry at the way the economy is being run and the deprivation that’s going on while the rich people in power make themselves richer.”
The marches in London, Glasgow and Cardiff are partly in response to the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill.
ICYMI: How the Gary Lineker and Match of the Day chaos unfolded
The BBC’s decision to stand Lineker down from its flagship football highlights programme last week caused a pundit boycott and left producers scrambling to keep the show alive.
The Independent was told that the BBC hierarchy, above BBC Sport, wanted Lineker to agree to a public statement that would have essentially amounted to an apology and an expression that he would be more careful on social media, which sources close to the situation said would have been rightly seen as the presenter “humiliating himself”.
Miguel Delaney had the inside story of how it happened.
The BBC’s decision to stand Lineker down from its flagship football highlights programme caused a pundit boycott and left producers scrambling to keep the show alive, reports Miguel Delaney
‘Back in the game’: Lineker’s son hails dad’s return
George Lineker has welcomed his father Gary’s return to the BBC.
The younger Lineker earlier this week revealed he had suffered from the fallout of his father’s suspension, as he shared an abusive message he had received on Twitter regarding the incident.
Lineker applauded Erling Haaland’s goalscoring prowess after the Manchester City forward put two away in the first half at the Etihad.
More from Gary Lineker now as the match goes to half-time.
The pundit makes his return to the BBC with a croaky voice.
Besides that, and Alan Shearer’s earlier comments, the BBC’s coverage of the match has gone ahead as usual.
Children’s author follows up Lineker’s ‘Nazi’ comments
Children’s author Michael Rosen has echoed the comments that got Gary Lineker suspended, condemning the government’s Illegal Migration Bill and compared its rhetoric to that of 1930s Germany.
Speaking at a protest outside Downing Street, he told the PA news agency: “I think it’s very important that we stand by refugees and oppose this law that the government is bringing in to criminalise people arriving here as migrants and refugees.”
“I think that this government is playing a very dangerous game, they’re stoking people’s fears, particularly fears of the stranger,” he added.
“This is a very old game of scapegoating and blaming people – vulnerable people – and saying to people who are poor and people who are unhappy: ‘the cause of your poverty and the cause of your unhappiness are these people arriving in small boats’.
“This is what the government does to shore up power, they’re very, very nervous that they’re going to lose power.
“It was a game that was played during the 1940s, there was a word which circulated around fascists in the 1930s, a German word, ‘fremdmoral’, which means alien morals.”
Watch: Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer address Match of the Day scandal
Alan Shearer was given the bulk of the responsibility for addressing the controversy that saw last week’s Match of the Day go ahead with no presenters.
Watch below as the pundit tells viewers about the “impossible situations” in the football world after Gary Lineker was suspended for comparing the government’s language regarding small boats on the English channel to Nazi Germany:
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