A row has erupted between former England captain Gary Lineker and Britain's Sun newspaper after the footballer accused the tabloid of peddling "lies" about asylum seekers.

On Thursday the Match of the Day presenter criticised tabloids questioning the age of refugees seeking asylum in Britain, tweeting "The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?"

He linked to a now discredited report claiming that a child asylum seeker alleged to be an adult by the Sun was in fact an Afghan interpreter.

In response The Sun blasted Lineker on its front page on Friday, accusing him of "peddling lies." Tory Mp David TC Davies told the newspaper: "I hope he apologises. I question if the BBC should be employing him when he seems to be using his fame to push out his rather emotive and controversial views."

Support for Lineker was trending on Twitter under the hashtag #TeamLineker, and the footballer shrugged off the attack, joking. "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."

In response to calls for Lineker to be sacked for breaching impartiality rules, a BBC spokesman told the Sun: "Gary is a freelance broadcaster and this is a personal Twitter account."

Lineker tweeted: "can't wait to present Match of the Day this weekend," before adding more seriously: "Slightly overwhelmed by the support on here today to be honest. Thank you."