Gary Lineker back on air to lead BBC FA Cup coverage

LONDON – BBC presenter Gary Lineker made a low-key return to live television on Saturday as he led the football broadcaster’s coverage of the FA Cup, but chose not to directly address his recent suspension at because of a tweet that criticized the British government’s migration policy.

Lineker was reinstated by the BBC on Monday after the public broadcaster backed down and reversed its suspension of the former footballing great following a huge backlash and major interruptions to its normal sports coverage last weekend.

Lineker, 62, a former England national team star and one of the BBC’s best-known entertainers, was back in the studio alongside former players Alan Shearer and Micah Richards ahead of the quarter-final of Manchester City’s FA Cup against Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.

“Alan, it’s great to be here,” Lineker said, his voice sounding hoarser than usual, but he made no further reference to the recent turmoil in his opening remarks.

Instead, it was Shearer who addressed the situation after he and a host of other football pundits and commentators refused to work for the BBC last weekend in solidarity with Lineker. As a result, several football programs were canceled and the popular ‘Match of the Day’ – featuring Premier League highlights – was cut from its normal 80 minutes to just 20 minutes of match footage without any commentary or analysis.

“I just need to clarify and wanted to say how great we were (for) all the audiences that missed out last weekend,” Shearer said. “It was a really difficult situation for everyone involved. And through no fault of their own, some really great people on TV and radio found themselves in an impossible situation. And it wasn’t fair. so good to get back to some sort of normality and talk about football again.

PHOTOS: Gary Lineker back on air to lead BBC FA Cup coverage

Lineker replied, “Absolutely. I echo those sentiments,” before focusing on the next game.

Lineker, who is known for his wit and frequent puns, previously posted a photo on Twitter from the stadium with the comment: “Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football.”

Lineker was suspended after criticizing the government’s new migration plan – aimed at stopping people reaching the country in small boats across the English Channel – describing it on Twitter as “immeasurably cruel” and calling it the government’s language of “resembling that used by Germany”. in the 30’s. “

The Conservative government called Lineker’s comparison offensive and unacceptable, and some lawmakers said the BBC should fire him. The broadcaster instead said Lineker would “back off” until he agreed to keep his tweets within the BBC’s rules of impartiality. But Lineker refused to back down from his comments and critics accused the BBC of suppressing free speech.

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