Gary Lineker, the highest-paid presenter at the BBC in Britain, was restored on Monday after the public outcry and almost-mutiny at the public broadcaster caused by its decision to suspend the former England football captain for opposing the government’s immigration policy.
Unfortunately for the BBC, its weekend sports coverage had to be cut after presenters, commentators, and pundits refused to support Lineker.
Some staff, opposition politicians and commentators accused the corporation, which has a mandate to be neutral, of bowing to pressure from the government, prompting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to urge a swift resolution of the situation.
The affair also renewed questions over the credibility of BBC chairman Richard Sharp. He failed to declare facilitating a loan for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly before he was appointed to the role by the government.
The 62-year-old Lineker, a prolific striker who won the Golden Boot with England at the 1986 World Cup, is expected to return on Saturday for the flagship Premier League highlights show “Match Of The Day” which he has hosted since 1999.
“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world,” he tweeted, before returning to the topic of immigration.
“However difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away.”
The publicly-funded BBC suspended him for breaching impartiality rules by comparing the rhetoric of interior minister Suella Braverman to language used in 1930s Germany.
Braverman has described the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers on small boats as an “invasion” and said that without a legal change, 100 million people could be entitled to enter.