Gary Lineker will "step back" from Match of the Day after a row over his social media use, the BBC has announced.

The former England international criticised the language used by the Conservative government to refer to refugees, drawing a comparison to the rhetoric of fascist Germany in the 1930s.

He wrote on Twitter that it was an "immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s"

That drew criticism from some in the government, who made clear their belief that he should not be commenting on politics.

Lineker is not an employee of the BBC, working for various sports programmes in a freelance capacity.

The BBC said in a statement: "The BBC 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.

Read More: Suella Braverman small boats plan could breach human rights law

“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, Sky News reported that Lineker had not agreed to the step back and was not willing to apologise for his comments.

On Thursday, Lineker had expected to be hosting the flagship highlights programme as usual.

He wrote on Twitter: "Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days.

"Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting Match of the Day on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming."

Fellow football pundits have since announced that they will not take part in the programme this weekend.

Pundit and former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has said he will not be appearing on Match of the Day on Saturday in “solidarity” with Lineker.

In a tweet, former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer said: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”

Lineker has been a passionate advocate for refugees, and has hosted asylum seekers in his house.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the broadcaster's decision "indefensible". 

Taking to Twitter, the outgoing SNP leader wrote: "As a strong supporter of public service broadcasting, I want to be able to defend the BBC.

"But the decision to take @GaryLineker off air is indefensible. It is undermining free speech in the face of political pressure - & it does always seem to be rightwing pressure it caves to."

Read More: Why is Gary Lineker having a row with Home Secretary Suella Braverman?

Following Lineker's comments, Downing Street said: "It's obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British (licence fee) payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration."

The government has admitted it cannot say for certain that its policy on refugees is compatible with human rights law.

Amnesty International said: "The UK government’s latest new bill is a heartless and cruel attack on people needing safety.

"The government is using lies and hate-filled language that will stoke flames of division, hatred and could end with more violence. We cannot allow this to happen.

"The bill will not only undermine all of our rights but also achieve unspeakable damage to people and communities. These include those seeking safety from persecution or exploitation and many other disadvantaged people. We demand that the government end their callous treatment towards people in need and put a stop to their campaign of hate."