The British tabloid media’s odious obsession with Raheem Sterling shows no signs of abating ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The Manchester City man is training alongside his England team mates at St George’s Park this week, and despite doing nothing of note he has been splashed across the front page of one publication.
The paper in question has written stories about mundane and unremarkable aspects of the player’s life for the best part of two years, many have been snide and insulting and oddly have portrayed Sterling as a villain.
On Tuesday Sterling made front page news in the UK because he got a new tattoo. The Sun went to print with the story of an anti-gun campaigner branding the picture of an assault rifle tattooed on the players calf as "disgusting", this story was given the most prominent placement in the newspaper industry, it was the lead story on the front page.
In the past Sterling has generated headlines for buying expensive clothes, taking a flight with a budget airline, failing to clean his car, proposing to his partner and eating breakfast.
The Man City star drew the ire of anti-gun campaigners, much to the delight I’m sure of the publication that has endeavoured to demean and demonize him since he first rose to prominence with Liverpool.
The 23-year-old recently got a large tattoo of an assault rifle on his right calf. Lucy Cope is the founder of 'Mothers Against Guns', her son Damian was shot dead outside a club in 2012.
Cope branded the tattoo as "disgusting" before adding Sterling should be dropped from the England team if he does not cover up the ink as she feels it glamorises gun violence: "He's supposed to be a role model but chooses to glamorise guns."
Sterling explained the ink is in tribute to his late father, who was shot and killed in Jamaica. On his instagram story he wrote: "When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished."
Gary Lineker was among those defending Raheem Sterling, the former England international tweeted: "Unique to this country to attempt to destroy our players morale before a major tournament.”
Lineker added: “It’s weird, unpatriotic and sad.”
Adam Keyworth highlighted the publication’s past history of writing unfavourable stories about the 23-year-old in a thread on twitter while the topic was broached on Tuesday's OTB AM with Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan.
Gilroy noted: "This is part of a long pattern of behavior from 'The Sun' and 'The Daily Mail' in particular, vilifying Raheem Sterling because he is a young successful black man who refuses to live his life quietly.
"Fair play to Raheem Sterling for doing what he wants and not taking any shit from the English media, because the English media are a despicable bunch."