Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has spoken out about the way that he and other black players are portrayed by the media and how such reporting continues to fuel negative connotations of black people and fuels racism.
With his life and wealth seemingly a fixation of British tabloids, Sterling was the subject of alleged racial abuse during a Premier League game against Chelsea in December.
The 24-year-old has been labelled flashy by a vicious media, criticised and highlighted for both spending the money has earned on things such as a house for his mother, and for not spending it by flying on a budget airline or eating at Greggs.
Having been abused by a fan at Stamford Bridge, Sterling highlighted last year the way that black players are portrayed differently from white players when he shared media headlines about teammates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden each buying a house for their family.
The reaction to Adarabioyo was negative, publicising his wage and the fact he was yet to start a Premier League game. Foden's wage was not revealed and his act drew praise.
View this post on Instagram
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 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. For example you have two young players starting out there careers both play for the same team, both have done the right thing. Which is buy a new house for there mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are, but look how the news papers get there message across for the young black player and then for the young white payer. I think this in unacceptable both innocent have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded. This young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an aggressive behaviour, so for all the news papers 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 give all players an equal chance.
"It is not just me," Sterling told The New York Times.
"Whenever you see a report on a black player or a black entertainer it has to end up with money, or bling, or cars, or something flashy. With a successful white person, it is nice, short, sweet, what a lovable person. Name me one white player who is thought of as 'blingy.'"
In the interview, the name of Cristiano Ronaldo was put forward as a proposed 'blingy' white player and Sterling explained why the perception of Ronaldo is not the same.
"If he is showing you his car, showing he is on top of the world, if that is what he puts out, then call him flashy. But I'm not showing you that, so why are you calling me that?" the player said.
"It is a stereotype of black people: chains and jewellery, bling and money. These are words that are associated with black people.
"If I was showing 10 cars on my driveway, if I was on Instagram biting my gold chain, or with two Rolexes on, you can call me flashy. But you can't label me as that if I am not portraying that."
Sterling even recalled a media story that accused him of flaunting his wealthy by having one car for every day of the week, seven in total. The reality was the pictures such reports had collated were of him driving the various cars at different times over six years. Never did he own seven at once.
In fact, right now, he and his partner own just one vehicle each. Sterling even said he is "in the process of selling mine, to get a more subtle one," something that is not the behaviour of an individual who wants to be on show. And yet, the media has created this perception of him.
Sterling doesn't actually blame the people who write the stories, nor does he believe it is coming from a racist place. It can breed racist behaviour in society, however, which is why he urged for 'fair publicity' and to 'give all players an equal chance' when highlighting Adarabioyo and Foden.
"I am not saying the papers are doing it on purpose," Sterling continued in his NY Times interview. "They might not know they are doing it in a racist way. I would say it is more just not thinking...people need to be careful of what is written, how they write, the little words.
"The people that read it take it in and judge straightaway who the person is. [The media] are fuelling it for the people reading it. It is constant, and I don't think it is fair, but who am I?"