Gary Lineker issues NEW statement on refugees as he SETS for BBC Return

Gary Lineker praised the public’s “heartwarming” empathy for refugees as he expressed “delight” at returning to BBC screens.

The Match of the Day host described his suspension as a “surreal few days” after expressing his political views on Twitter.

The former England footballer was fired from his position as a presenter on Friday after comparing the government’s stance on asylum seekers to Nazi Germany.

After a large number of high-profile BBC contributors refused to appear on the channel in solidarity with Lineker, the broadcaster backed down and apologised for “potential confusion caused by the grey areas” of its social media guidelines.

In a statement about this return, Lineker said the “difficult last few days” were incomparable with the experiences of refugees.

He said on Twitter: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this.

“I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“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.

“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away.

“It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”

His remarks about refugees come as BBC Director-General Tim Davie stated that Lineker “will abide by the editorial guidelines” until the BBC’s social media policy is reviewed.

The broadcaster’s president stated that the 62-year-old was suspended not because of his views on refugees, but because he became involved in party politics.

“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.”