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Migrant comments led to 'spanking', says BBC's Lineker, but won't cost job

Published 21/10/2016

Gary Lineker has hit back at criticism he received online after wading into the debate about child refugees
Gary Lineker has hit back at criticism he received online after wading into the debate about child refugees

Gary Lineker has admitted his comments about child refugees had led him to get "a bit of a spanking" - but is confident his TV presenting job is safe.

There have been calls for the BBC to sack the Match Of The Day host for wading into the debate after he said public treatment of the young migrants arriving in the UK this week was "hideously racist", sparking criticism.

The Sun newspaper claimed the broadcaster was "under pressure to fire" the retired footballer, but Lineker dismissed the story.

His intervention came after concerns were raised about the age of those being transferred from the Calais Jungle camp as part of a new fast-track system to help vulnerable youngsters.

A number of the arrivals were accused of looking considerably older than 18, prompting him to post on Twitter: "The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?"

In response to the criticism, Lineker tweeted: "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.

"Must say though, I'm rather chuffed to have been called a 'luvvie'."

The 55-year-old also responded to one Twitter user who claimed he "deserved" to lose his job, saying "I won't".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of support for Lineker and singer Lily Allen, who was criticised in some quarters for apologising to migrants at Calais "on behalf of my country".

Writing on Twitter, Mr Corbyn said: "I admire Gary Lineker and Lily Allen for showing Britain at its best: compassionate, welcoming, and standing up to fear and division."

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