BBC announce Gary Lineker taken off Match of the Day over social media controversy

 Gary Lineker is a regular presenter on the BBC's football coverage
Gary Lineker is a regular presenter on the BBC's football coverage

Gary Lineker has 'stepped back' from presenting duties on Match of the Day as a result of the row over his use of Twitter, according to the BBC.

The ex-England footballer has regularly used his Twitter account to air his political views, and caused a storm this week after comparing the Conservative government's refugee policy to Nazi Germany.

The broadcaster says he will not present the Premier League highlights programme "until an agreement is reached on his social media use".

The BBC has a commitment to political impartiality as part of its charter, and Lineker has drawn criticism for using his profile to criticise the government, particularly over its approach to refugees and Brexit.

His posts this week have led to a row that has had several days of front page newspaper coverage, with government supporters claiming it breaks the impartiality code.

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday, Lineker said: "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?"

See more

A BBC spokesperson said the corporation has been in "extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days".

"We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.

"The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.

"When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. 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."

However, as a presenter who does not cover politics on television, as well working with other channels on a freelance basis, Lineker's defenders say that he is not bound by impartiality on his own social media profile.

Lineker himself as refused to apologise for his remarks, and has retweeted a number of people defending his position.