Gary Lineker cancels appearance on Match Of The Day Live

Gary Lineker has cancelled his appearance on Match Of The Day Live due to illness, BBC Sport has said.

Lineker returned to presenting duties on Saturday after he was taken off air by the broadcaster last weekend over his comments comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.

Former England player and presenter Alex Scott will be hosting the coverage of Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final between Brighton & Hove Albion and Grimsby Town on BBC One from 1.50pm instead.

A post by BBC Sport on Twitter said: “Due to illness, we’ve got a line-up change... As viewers will have noticed yesterday, Gary Lineker was struggling with his voice and unfortunately it has deteriorated overnight.”

Following Lineker‘s return to cover the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday alongside fellow England footballers-turned-pundits Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, he said on air it was “great to be here”.

He also posted a photo of himself at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester and told his Twitter followers: “Ah the joys of being allowed to stick to football.”

Meanwhile, a refugee who lived with Lineker for 20 days while studying a law course spoke about his relationship with the 62-year-old former England striker.

Rasheed Baluch, from the mountainous Balochistan region which straddles Pakistan and Iran, told the Sunday Mirror the presenter is “friendly and open-minded” and loved hearing his story and listened “attentively”.

He added: “Although Gary is a star, he leads a simple life. He is never proud of his status. He is a very sympathetic, caring and human loving man. He gave me an Oyster card which contained £100 top-up for my transport to university.”

Lineker responded on Twitter, writing: “Ah Rasheed, how sweet of you.”

Mr Baluch was welcomed to the presenter’s Surrey property through Refugees At Home before the former lawyer when to stay with the charity’s co-founder Sara Nathan and then later found a place on his own.

He also said during the interview that the backlash against Mr Lineker was “unfair”.

Lineker‘s agent Jon Holmes also said in The New Stateman this week that his client has a “passionate interest in refugees and immigration” and he thought he had “special agreement” with BBC Director-general Tim Davie to “tweet about these issues”.

He also highlighted Lineker was not a political pundit and “assiduously avoids” taking part in on air political programmes.

On Monday, Mr Davie said in a statement the corporation has commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.

He also apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period” after BBC Sport staff and commentators walked out in support of Lineker, with highlight shows significantly shorter than usual and aired without presentation or commentary last weekend.

He also described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.

Mr Davie 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.”

On Sunday Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden criticised Gary Lineker’s attack on the Government’s immigration rhetoric.

Asked on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme about the football pundit’s comparison of the language used by ministers to that deployed in 1930s Germany, Mr Dowden said: “I think that’s deeply offensive.

“The comparison between the policies by this Government to legitimately stop dangerous, illegal migration and the evils of the Nazi regime – I find it appalling that people can draw parallels between the two of them.”

For Labour, shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy defended Lineker as she told the same programme: “What people say Gary Lineker said is very different from what Gary Lineker actually said.

“The Government has been keen to say he’s been likening this to the Nazis, he wasn’t – and I would have utterly condemned that had he done so – I don’t think he would have done so.

“What he was pointing to was a chilling comparison with an environment in which people aren’t free to be able to challenge this sort of language and behaviour.”