In an Instagram post on Sunday, Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling accused English publications of helping to “fuel racism” with the way they portray young black players in the media. The accusation came in the wake of Saturday’s game against Chelsea, where Sterling allegedly faced racial abuse from opposing supporters in his side’s 2-0 defeat.
The post highlights two headlines from the Daily Mail that focus on young players purchasing houses. The first screenshot focuses on a young black player with the headline making note of the player’s age, his weekly wage, and the fact that he hadn’t started a single game at that point in his career. The second screenshot focuses on a white player, and the headline just notes that the home was for his mother.
“[W]hat was said at the Chelsea game” refers to a moment in the match where Sterling went to pick up a ball near a group of Chelsea supporters, and one of the men caught shouting at the player appeared to hurl racist abuse. The Guardian reports that no arrest had been made, but stewards did escort the supporter in question away from his seat after the match had ended.
This incident comes just one week after a banana skin was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he celebrated scoring against Tottenham in the north London derby.
If there’s anyone qualified to call out British media on promoting such hateful rhetoric, it’s Sterling. The winger is pretty consistently the subject of unfair media treatment and is often singled out with criticism for doing normal shit that famous soccer players usually do (i.e. purchasing nice things, going on vacation, etc.). He may be pointing out issues that are obvious to those who pay attention, but the fact that he’s taken the step of highlighting these things—against a notoriously disrespectful sports media circuit, no less—is important in its own right. It’s even resulted in other former and current players standing behind Sterling in support. There’s no guarantee that this will lead to any meaningful change, but you can be sure silence never would have.