Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling has been forced to defend his new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle.
Sterling posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St George’s Park, with a tattoo of an assault rifle on the winger’s right calf clearly visible.
Lucy Cope, who founded Mothers Against Guns after her son Damian was shot dead outside a club in central London in July 2012, said the ink was “totally unacceptable”.
She told the Sun: “We demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo.
“If he refuses he should be dropped from the England team.
“He’s supposed to be a role model but chooses to glamorise guns.”
But Sterling, who helped City win the Premier League title in April and is currently preparing for next month’s World Cup, alluded to the tattoo having a “deeper meaning”.
In a post on Instagram, the 23-year-old said: “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.”
In a bid to quash the controversy ahead of the World Cup, which starts next month, the Football Association came out in support of Sterling.
“We all support Raheem Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave via Instagram last night,” an FA spokesperson said.
“He and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup.”
smg/jd (Additional editing by Sean McMahon)
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