British newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" with their portrayal of black footballers, Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling said today as police investigate whether he was racially abused during a Premier League match at Chelsea.
Two screenshots were posted on Sterling's Instagram account highlighting contrasting coverage of young City teammates buying properties.
When Tosin Adarabioyo bought a house the headline in January called it a "mansion" and highlighted that the purchase was made despite the player "having never started a Premier League match." There was more positive coverage of Phil Foden, who is white, buying a house for his mother also for around 2 million pounds (US$2.5 million).
"This young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an(d) aggressive behaviour," Sterling wrote on Instagram. "So for all 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 an(d) give all players an equal chance."
Sterling called the coverage "unacceptable."
"You have two young players starting out their careers both play for the same team, both have done the right thing," Sterling wrote, "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, but look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player."
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 2.
On Instagram, Sterling only briefly touched on Saturday's incident at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium when a man appeared to aggressively hurl abuse at him as the ball was being retrieved on the byline. Police are reviewing footage that circulated widely online during City's 2-0 loss.
"I just want to say, I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point heard I will speak up," Sterling 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."
The previous weekend in the Premier League, a banana skin was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he celebrated scoring against Tottenham in the Premier League's north London derby.
English soccer's anti-racism organization, Kick It Out, complained Sunday that the chairmen of the Premier League, Football Association and Chelsea had not spoken out about the alleged abuse faced by Sterling.
"It has to be dealt with at the top," Kick It Out chairman Herman Ouseley said. "We do not have any leadership at the top of the game to speak out, they rely on Kick It Out."