Police officers have interviewed Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City star was subjected to alleged racial abuse from Chelsea supporters last night.
The Metropolitan Police said it had spoken to Sterling today as part of its investigation into the incident at Stamford Bridge last night.
Shocking footage appeared to show a Chelsea fan calling the winger a ‘f****** black c***’ when the player collected the ball from the side of the pitch.
The England star sported a brave face as he was photographed leaving his club’s training ground in a black Mercedes 4×4 this afternoon.
Some big names in the world of football took to Twitter to respond to video footage of the incident.
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand suggested that footballers in England should be inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling gesture and launch their own bid to fight back against racism after this latest worrying incident.
Twitter users highlighted a first-half incident when a supporter at Stamford Bridge appeared to mouth the phrase ‘f****** black c***’ towards Sterling as he collected the ball in front of a section of Chelsea fans.
Pictures of the moment and a video widely circulated on social media appeared to confirm this, with one spectator allegedly making the racist comment amid a barrage of aggressive abuse from Chelsea fans towards Sterling.
Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand made his views known, posting on Instagram and Twitter: ‘Are we going to continue to allow this type of racist behaviour go on??? All for kicking a ball!’
Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton was racially abused in a match against Chelsea in 2011. Blues captain John Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 after admitting using the word ‘black’ and swearing at Anton, although he claimed he had only been repeating words he thought the then-QPR defender had accused him of saying.
Rio’s Instagram post attracted a comment from Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who wrote: ‘We have to put a stop to this someway’.
Ferdinand replied: ‘In the NFL the players took to the knee…’ He was referencing a movement spearheaded by former quarterback Kaepernick, who began a trend of kneeling during the US national anthem in protest against racism in America. Kaepernick famously explained his position: ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.’
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright also weighed in on social media, saying he is under no illusion as to what was said by the fan to Sterling. Wright said: ‘The bad old days are back! Chelsea you have been shamed by this disgusting racist fan! absolutely no doubt about what he says.’
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker branded the incident ‘despicable’ while BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey said: ‘If indeed it is proved to be racist abuse then I hope it’s a lifetime ban. No place for it in this world.’
Sterling posted a statement on Instagram on Sunday morning addressing the incident at Stamford Bridge. It read: ‘Good morning. 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.
‘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 also said that he believed black players and white players were not treated equally by the media, including the Daily Mail and MailOnline, and that he believes this helps ‘fuel racism and aggressive behaviour.’
A Chelsea spokesman said: ‘We’re aware of reports and video footage. We will investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action where necessary.’
A Football Association statement read: ‘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.’
The Met Police said: ‘We are aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player at a Chelsea v Manchester City game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, December 8.
‘We will review the footage to determine whether any offences have been committed.’
No arrests have been made, the Met added.
Should any offence have been made, a life ban could be handed to the supporter or supporters responsible.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out later issued a statement, which read: ‘We’ve received reports from a variety of sources about an incident of alleged racist abuse at the Chelsea-Manchester City game.
‘We will forward those to Chelsea and offer our support in their investigation.
‘Yet another great day of football damaged by prejudice.’