Gary Lineker said he is “overwhelmed” by the support he has received after being criticised for defending child migrants on social media.
The Match of the Day presenter branded media coverage of migrants arriving in the UK as “hideously racist” on Twitter earlier this week.
Following his comments, The Sun newspaper published a front page story calling on the BBC to sack Lineker.
In a statement, the BBC quashed claims that it is under pressure to fire the football pundit: “Gary is a freelance broadcaster and this is a personal Twitter account.”
Lineker brushed off the tabloid attack, writing on Twitter: “Getting a bit of a spanking today, but things could be worse: Imagine, just for a second, being a refugee having to flee from your home.”
On Tuesday, Lineker condemned the treatment of child migrants being transferred from the Jungle camp in Calais after newspapers and a Tory MP accused a number of arrivals of looking older than 18.
“The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What’s happening to our country?” the former footballer tweeted.
The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 18, 2016
Lineker thanked users for their messages of support after some called on him to resign from his position at the BBC.
Thank you for a massive amount of support on here. Proof that the vast majority of people in this country are decent, caring human beings.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 19, 2016
The presenter also took a swipe at Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan, who joked that he was secretly hoping to take Lineker’s job as MOTD host.
Relax. You're a long way down the MOTD running order. https://t.co/B6xDhxEV4E
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 21, 2016