Raheem Sterling criticism includes 'a certain amount of racism' - Ian Wright
Criticism of Raheem Sterling is motivated by racism, according to former England striker Ian Wright who thinks "there is an agenda against" the Manchester City forward.
Sterling was the focus of negative attention during the World Cup over a tattoo on his leg depicting a gun as well as his performances despite helping England to the semifinals for the first time in 28 years.
The 23-year-old didn't score in Russia but was back on the scoresheet in City's first match of their Premier League title defence, a 2-0 win at Arsenal, and celebrated his goal by holding his hand to his ear.
Ex-Gunners forward Ian Wright believes Sterling is unfairly singled out for extra criticism.
"How many people do you see get the criticism Sterling gets?" he told BBC Radio 5Live. "The football criticism is something every player has to deal with, but what he gets I don't see any other footballer getting.
"They don't get that stick because for whatever reason they don't rub up the people in the corridors of power the wrong way. I think there is an agenda against him.
"There is an element of people at high end of the media who want to keep that guy down. Simple.
"When you look at the wave of criticism that he takes, there is a certain amount of racism towards it -- what else can it be?
"They are picking on him because of the the background he has come from and they want to keep him down, drag him back down. They don't want him to continue to be a success.
"People say you are playing the racism card, but you give me a good reason why Raheem Sterling gets the stick he gets for just being a footballer."
Sterling has also been in the newspapers for driving an unwashed car, shopping at a discount store and buying sausage rolls from the bakery Greggs. In June he admitted negative coverage made him worried to leave the house.
"I remember my first game at the Euros [in 2016] -- I thought I did alright. Got past my opponent a couple of times, got a couple of balls in, and you just get caned [by the media]," he said in an interview published just days before the World Cup began.
"Now I am constantly thinking: 'If I do this, something bad will come of it, if I go out tonight something bad is going to happen.'"