Raheem Sterling has said that newspapers are helping to “fuel racism” by the ways in which they portray young black footballers, explaining that he was not surprised at suffering from apparent racial abuse during Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge because “I don’t expect no better”.
Police are investigating whether Sterling was racially abused by a Chelsea fan during Saturday's Premier League game. The incident happened in the first half at Stamford Bridge as Sterling went to retrieve the ball.
The Metropolitan Police has said that it is “aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player.”
And in a lengthy Instagram post, Sterling has drawn attention to negative press coverage he and other black footballers have been subject to, arguing that newspapers help to “fuel racism” with their “aggressive behaviour”, while explaining his reaction to Saturday’s incident.
“I just want to say, I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point to be heard I will speak up,” he wrote.
“Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.”
Sterling posted two pictures to his Instagram page, showing Mail Online stories about Manchester City players Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying new houses.
The story about Foden, who is white, has the headline: “Manchester City starlet Phil Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.” The story about Adarabioyo, who is black, has the headline: “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25million despite having never started a Premier League match”.
“For example, you have two young players starting out their careers, both play for the same team, both have done the right thing. Which is buy a new house for their mothers, who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,” Sterling wrote.
“But look how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and young white player.
“I think this is unacceptable. Both [are] innocent, have not done a thing wrong, but just by the way it has been worded this young black kid is looked at in a bad light.
“[What] helps fuel racism is aggressive behaviour, so for all of the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age, all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance.”
Following Sterling’s post, Kick It Out chair Lord Ouseley called on the game's leaders to address the incident at Stamford Bridge and the issues raised by the Manchester City player.
He wrote: “What happened at Chelsea shows what is still going on in football.
“Where is (Premier League executive chairman) Richard Scudamore, where is (Football Association chairman) Greg Clarke, where is Chelsea's chairman (Bruce Buck) - they should have been talking out last night and it has to be dealt with at the top.
“We do not have any leadership at the top of the game to speak out, they rely on Kick It Out.
“We have already made comments about the way Raheem Sterling has been treated differently by the media. The print media often targets, not just black players, but all footballers.
“Raheem Sterling has received bad press over the last few years because of his lifestyle, and clearly, there are issues from potential stories adding to prejudice and I have every sympathy for him.”
Ouseley added: “Players know if they are abused in any way they have to tell the referee. It was awful.
“All players know the referee is in charge and has a duty of care, and the referee can remove those people. It didn't appear to me he told the referee in the first place.”
Sterling has frequently found himself criticised by the tabloid press and found himself at the centre of several negative media headlines in the summer, after he got a tattoo of an assault rifle on his leg as a tribute to his late father, who was killed in Jamaica.
He has previously been criticised for shopping at Primark and flying on a budget airline, as well as spending large sums of money on cars and a private jet.
Responding to Sterling’s post on Sunday, the FA pledged to deal with the matter “appropriately”.
“We take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and will work with the clubs and the relevant authorities to ensure this matter is dealt with appropriately,” their statement read.
“We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and encourage all fans and participants who believe that they have been the subject of, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report it through the appropriate channels: The FA, our County FAs or our partners Kick It Out.”