Raheem Sterling: Silence over criticism is 'shameful', says Kick It Out chair
There has been a "shameful silence" over ongoing criticism of Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, says a leading anti-racism campaigner.
Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, has called for football's leading bodies to tackle the concerns.
Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright told BBC Radio 5 live on Monday that criticism of Sterling is motivated by racism.
Lord Ouseley, in his weekly column for The Voice, suggested the winger could be "driven out of the English game".
Sterling, 23, has faced frequent media disapproval, most recently for a tattoo of a rifle on his leg but also for purchasing clothes from Primark and buying his mother a house. He was also criticised over his World Cup performances for England in Russia.
During the tournament, Sterling wrote a blog post for The Players' Tribune in which he said he no longer worries about the media "picking on him".
In his column, Lord Ouseley, who founded Kick It Out 25 years ago to tackle racism and discrimination in football, asked the Football Association, Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers' Association to join the organisation in speaking out.
He wrote: "Where is the FA on this? Where is the Premier League on this? Where are the PFA and LMA on this?
"Where are the voices of the leaders in football on this? Are they happy to see a young black talent driven out of the English game because he is vilified unreasonably and unjustifiably while the governing bodies maintained a shameful silence?"
Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the PFA, told BBC Sport that Sterling should be celebrated rather than harshly treated because of misconceptions in the media.
"He's a young lad who should be held up as a story of success against adversity," said Barnes, pointing to the respect that the winger has from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and England boss Gareth Southgate.
"It's a shame there isn't more talk about a young man who has come to this country and built a great future and made a wonderful contribution to the clubs he's been at."
The FA told BBC Sport it spoke to England players before the World Cup regarding concerns over racism in Russia. It said it wanted to make sure players felt they had the backing of the governing body should they need it, and that those support networks remain in place.
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Lord Ouseley added: "The 23-year-old is successful and well-off by anybody's standards - the red-top sniping at him does smack of resentment towards a young, black man from humble roots, as if he's somehow not entitled to enjoy the fruits of his hard work, talent and dedication."
He wrote that Sterling may have been cast as a "pantomime villain" - with criticisms of his on-field performances meant sincerely - but asked whether there was a "racial undercurrent" to the media coverage.
Lord Ouseley added: "Ian Wright has spoken out and I applaud him for it. We at Kick It Out will speak out too - how many influential figures in the game will join us?"