Gary Lineker to Return to BBC Soccer Show ‘Match of the Day’

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It came after a walkout by Mr. Lineker’s soccer colleagues forced the BBC to radically curtail its coverage of a national obsession, including reducing “Match of the Day,” a mix of game analysis and chatty conversation, to 20 commentary-free minutes on Saturday.

Mr. Davie labored over the weekend to work out the compromise with Mr. Lineker. But the fallout from the dispute is likely to be wide and long-lasting, casting doubt over the corporation’s management, which has made political impartiality a priority but has faced persistent questions about its own close ties to the Conservative government.

“It’s a long war, and this is but another skirmish,” said Claire Enders, a London-based media researcher and the founder of Enders Analysis. “All this has put the BBC’s independence at risk, and its reputation at risk.”

Mr. Lineker, 62, is one of the BBC’s biggest names, a beloved sports figure who made a smooth transition from the playing field to the broadcasting booth, where he has been a fixture on “Match of the Day” since 1999, analyzing games and shooting the breeze with other retired stars. He is the BBC’s highest-paid on-air personality, earning 1.35 million pounds, about $1.6 million, in 2022.

But Mr. Lineker, who grew up in a working-class family in Leicester, has never kept his views on social issues a secret. When the government announced strict new immigration plans to cut down on asylum seekers, he posted on Twitter, “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?”

The British home secretary, Suella Braverman, who is spearheading the policy to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats, said that Mr. Lineker’s comments diminished the atrocities of the Holocaust. Other Conservative lawmakers said that he had misused his BBC platform — not for the first time — to voice a political opinion.


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