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Tweet row: BBC reverses Gary Lineker's suspension

Lineker had tweeted criticising the British government's new asylum policy

Gary-Lineker-ap (File) Gary Lineker | AP

Gary Lineker will return as TV host after the BBC reversed the former football great's suspension on Monday for a post on Twitter that had criticised the British government's new asylum policy.

"Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend,” BBC director general Tim Davie said.

Britain's national broadcaster was forced to scrap much of its weekend sports programming after commentators, analysts and Premier League players refused to appear as a show of support to Lineker.

Lineker, one of English football's most lauded players and the corporation's highest-paid television presenter, was suspended on Friday after he compared the Conservative government's language about migrants to that used in Nazi Germany. The BBC said the tweet breached its impartiality rules, but critics accused it of suppressing free speech.

Davie said there would be an independent review of the BBC's social media rules to address the grey areas in the guidelines.

BBC faced widespread condemnation for its actions as presenters, including former England internationals Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott, decided to keep away from in solidarity with Lineker. Following this, Football Focus and Final Score (both on BBC One) were not aired.

While British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged Lineker and the BBC to settle their disagreement, Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, had said the BBC was caving into political pressure from Conservative lawmakers.

Lineker, a former England international and the top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, finished his international career with 48 goals in 80 matches for England. The 62-year-old retired after stints with Barcelona, Tottenham, Everton and Leicester.

Lineker went on to become one of the UK's most influential media figures and the BBC's best-paid star, earning 1.35 million pounds (USD 1.6 million) last year.

He has hosted Match of the Day since 1999.

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