Raheem Sterling’s Tattoos are his Business and Media Hounding has to Stop
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Raheem Sterling’s Tattoos are his Business and Media Hounding has to Stop

The days are ticking down to the World Cup, excitement among fans is rising and players should be focusing on their team’s opening game next month.

That’s what will be happening in most squads, aside from concerns about fitness and form, but the England camp are having to contend with stories about a player and his tattoo.

Raheem Sterling has been front-page news in The Sun for the past couple of days for choosing to get a tattoo of a gun on his right leg.

Tuesday’s edition had a picture of Sterling’s leg, accompanied by “ace’s sick new tattoo.”

Rather than focusing everything on England’s World Cup opener with Tunisia, Sterling was forced to waste his time by taking to social media to explain the reason being his latest piece of ink. Sterling should not have had any need to justify himself but for the record, it was in memory of his father who was shot and killed when the Manchester City player was a child.

Instead of consigning the story to the history books, The Sun elected to double down on its angle on Wednesday by interviewing Damilola Taylor’s father with a front page splash of “Damilola dad: Say sorry for gun tattoo, Raheem.”

Damilola Taylor’s death in 2000 was a tragedy, but he was not a victim of gun crime and for The Sun to go with such an angle was wrong.

Sterling is a divisive figure and a lot of this is down to his portrayal in the media. He has a ‘rap sheet’ longer than the gun tattooed on his leg, such as one minute being labelled extravagant for buying his mum a house and the next tagged a cheapskate for flying home from holiday on EasyJet. It seems that whatever Sterling does is wrong in the eyes of certain sections of the media.

There are other footballers with tattoos of guns – Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno and Damien Delaney of Crystal Palace being but two – but Sterling is front-page news.

If The Sun and other sections of the media want to go in hard Sterling, it should be for what he does on the football pitch.

Criticise him for his sometimes wayward finishing? Of course. Take him to task if he makes mincemeat of a full-back only to then play an abject pass into the box? Again, yes. If it is justified.

Better still, with the World Cup a little over two weeks away, why not focus on the positives such as Sterling being generous with his time for a group of fans after a recent England training session, and get behind the team?

The latter is probably asking for too much, but the hounding of one of the country’s brightest footballing talents has to stop.

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