Four suspended amid Sterling investigation
Amid an outcry over the treatment of Jamaican born Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling by England's media and football fans, Chelsea suspended four people from attending its matches as police investigated whether the player was racially abused during an English Premier League match.
Police are reviewing footage that circulated widely online during Chelsea's 2-0 win over City on Saturday, showing a man aggressively hurling abuse at Sterling as the player retrieved the ball off the field. Others near the man also appeared to be goading the England international.
Supportive of investigation
Chelsea said the club was fully supporting the police investigation and will pass on any information it gathers.
"Chelsea finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent," the London club said in a statement yesterday, "and if there is evidence of ticket-holders taking part in any racist behaviour, the club will issue severe sanctions, including bans. We will also fully support any criminal prosecutions."
Sterling, one of English football's best and most high-profile players, posted a message on his Instagram account on Sunday, touching only briefly on the incident and instead focusing on the portrayal of black footballers in British newspapers which he believes helps to "fuel racism."
"Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game," Sterling wrote, "as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don't expect no better."
The 24-year-old Sterling has had an uneasy relationship with the media, with critical coverage before the World Cup in Russia of his decision to get a tattoo of an assault rifle on his right leg. He said it was a tribute to his late father, who was shot dead when Sterling was two. He was also heavily criticised by fans and in the media before, during, and after the European Championship in 2016, so much so that he decided to stop going on social media.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was one of Sterling's coaches at Euro 2016, and was approached by the winger during the tournament. Sterling, felt, according to Neville, that the abuse toward him was "vicious" and that he was being "targeted."