Thursday 17 January 2019

Media fuelling racism, says City star as probe into abuse begins

Lord Ouseley: 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
Lord Ouseley: 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

Jason Burt

Raheem Sterling has accused sections of the media of fuelling the kind of alleged racism he suffered at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.

The Metropolitan Police and Chelsea are investigating an incident during the first-half in which a fan in the Matthew Harding stand at the Bridge verbally abused Sterling.

Chelsea are working on identifying the man and have requested video and audio footage from BT Sport, who broadcast the game. The club will also use their own cameras to try to determine whether or not the abuse was racist.

If found guilty, the man will be banned for life from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea could still decide to ban him on the basis of probability, even if he denies using racist language.

Footage

The Sterling incident came a week after a Tottenham Hotspur supporter threw a banana at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the North London derby. And Police Scotland have been given footage that shows around 20 fans in the main stand at Tynecastle shouting abuse at Motherwell's Christian Mbulu, as the sub warmed up on the touchline in the game against Hearts.

Lord Ouseley, the founder of Kick it Out, questioned why the Premier League and Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck had remained silent on the Sterling subject.

However, it was Sterling himself who made the strongest statement by highlighting the different coverage he feels young black footballers receive in comparison to their white counterparts.

The England international used a picture of a story that had appeared on MailOnline last January about his club-mate, Tosin Adarabioyo, under the headline: 'Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25m despite having never started a Premier League match.' He also referenced a story from October about City's teenage midfielder, Phil Foden, buying a house which had carried the headline: 'Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.'

Ouseley said: "We have already made comments about the way Raheem Sterling has been treated differently by the media.

"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.

"What happened at Chelsea shows what is still going on in football.

"Where is (Premier League chief executive) Richard Scudamore? Where is Chelsea's chairman (Bruce Buck)? They should have been talking out last night and it has to 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."

Despite the fact his statement on Instagram would suggest he heard the abuse shouted at him, it is unclear whether Sterling was fully aware of the language aimed at him.

"Players know if they are abused in any way they have to tell the referee," added Lord Ouseley.

"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."

The FA responded quickly with a statement of their own that said: "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.

"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."

As part of their investigation, Chelsea will take statements from the stewards who were working in the same area as Sterling's abuser, who they appeared to talk to towards the end of the game before allowing him to watch the closing stages.

Former Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra was among the players to express their dismay at Sterling's abuse.

Evra, who was racially abused by Luis Suarez in 2011, tweeted: "How does this happen still in 2018?! It doesn't matter what colour your skin is or your religion or what country you are from, we need to be kind to each other."

Gary Lineker praised Sterling. "He most certainly has a point. It's brave and right that @sterling7 speaks out," the Match of the Day host tweeted."

Rio Ferdinand, wrote: "Are we going to continue to allow this type of racist behaviour go on??? All for kicking a ball!"

A statement from the Black Collective of Media in Sport read: "BCOMS stands with Raheem Sterling and thanks him for raising the issue of how the media portrays black footballers and communities across the country.

"We hope this serves as a wake-up call not just for the newspapers, but all the media, and ask them to reassess how they treat Raheem and portray black sportsmen and women."

Irish Independent

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