Gary Lineker on skipping Match Of The Day: ‘Rotten cold’ has silenced me

Gary Lineker has said he will be absent from Match Of The Day because of illness “silencing” him.

The presenter and former England player was briefly absent from the BBC One football highlights show last year amid criticism of his social media remarks.

This led to the BBC updating its guidelines for employees.

Lineker, 63, also sparked further controversy a few weeks ago by retweeting a post that called for Israel to be banned from international sporting events, including football, before deleting it.

He had been due to present MOTD on Saturday night.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Lineker joked: “Some good news for some: I’ve been silenced….with a rotten cold that seems to be lasting forever. Hate missing hosting @BBCMOTD but I’ll be watching.”

In March last year, Lineker also missed MOTD Live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Brighton & Hove Albion and Grimsby Town and joked that he had been “silenced” by illness.

That came after he was reinstated in his role on the BBC One show that month following the refusal of other pundits and sports broadcasters to go on air in solidarity over his removal.

Lineker had been taken off air after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.

Flagship presenters such as Lineker, Strictly Come Dancing hosts and The Apprentice star Lord Sugar are now under new social media rules that place “expectations on impartiality”.

One requirement means they are not allowed to make attacks on political parties or criticise the character of individual politicians in the UK.

Last month, Lineker reportedly misread a tweet by the Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calling for the International Olympic Committee, Fifa and all regional and international sports governing bodies to take “an urgent stance”.

He told The Guardian he had “received threats” over the error and described social media postings on the Hamas-Israel war “toxic”.

“If you lean to one side or the other, the levels of attack are extraordinary. How could it be controversial to want peace?” Lineker said. “I just don’t understand it.”