By Charlotte McLaughlin and Ellie Iorizzo, PA Entertainment Reporters
Gary Lineker said as he returns to TV screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley that his support from colleagues has been “hugely gratifying” and “quite beautiful”.
Saturday will mark the 62-year-old broadcaster’s first appearance on the BBC since he was told to step back from hosting Match Of The Day (MOTD) in a row over impartiality.
Lineker was taken off air last week for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new UK government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.
When asked by LaLiga Sports TV about how his week has been on Friday, the former England striker said: “Really quiet. Nothing much going on. You could say it’s been an interesting week but I’m still here, still punching.
“It was interesting and also hugely gratifying, I had an amazing amount of support from my friends and colleagues which was quite beautiful actually.
“It was totally disproportionate the whole thing but we’re OK. It’s resolved, I’m relieved, I’m back to work tomorrow and all is well with the world.”
He will present live BBC coverage, with analysis from Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, on Saturday afternoon while Mark Chapman is due to host the Match Of The Day highlights show later on Saturday night.
Many of Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues walked out in “solidarity” last weekend, with highlight shows significantly shorter than usual and aired without presentation or commentary.
MOTD aired for only 20 minutes last Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for just 15 minutes.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement the corporation has commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.
Mr Davie apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences” and described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.
He added: “The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”
After the official BBC statement was published, Lineker tweeted that he was “delighted” to have navigated a way through the row after a “surreal few days”.
He added: “I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.”