Gary Lineker, the face of the BBC’s football coverage, will step back from presenting its flagship programme following a row over his criticism of the government’s migration policy, the corporation said on Friday.
Lineker, a former England captain, has recently likened the government’s language on asylum seekers to that used by Germany in the 1930s.
The comments sparked uproar among Conservative politicians who said they were not acceptable.
A presenter on the corporation’s news channel read out a statement, saying the BBC had been in discussions with Lineker and his team in recent days and decided that he would step back from presenting Match of the Day “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”
The BBC said it considered Lineker’s recent social media activity to be a breach of its guidelines.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies,” it added.
Lineker, who has previously hosted refugees in his home, had retweeted a post featuring a video of interior minister Suella Braverman talking about a proposed new law, with the comment “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
When challenged by a respondent, he said: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
Following the announcement, Arsenal legend Ian Wright tweeted that he would not appear on Saturday’s show in support of Lineker.
“Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity,” he said on Twitter.
Gary Lineker to ‘step back’ from BBC over tweet on migration