Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has backed team-mate Raheem Sterling, saying he knows what is like to suffer racial abuse.
Sterling was allegedly the victim of racial abuse during Manchester City’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea over the weekend, with investigations launched into the matter by the club, the Football Association and the Metropolitan Police.
The player himself took to Instagram following the event, noting that he believed the difficulties he faces are made worse by the media’s treatment of black players in the United Kingdom.
Sterling has since received the backing of players, coaches and media members for his response.
Gundogan has also experienced racial abuse, as both he and Mesut Ozil were attacked over their Turkish ancestry while playing for Germany during the World Cup in 2018.
The pair met with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May and posed for a photo with him, drawing rebukes but also abuse by fans and even a German politicians.
While Gundogan has seen fit to carry on with Germany, Ozil blasted his treatment from the DFB and retired from international play.
Citing that experience, Gundogan added his voice to those supporting Sterling, saying it is difficult but that they must all persevere.
“We have to deal with it,” Gundogan said. “It’s not easy because I lived it in the summer as well. I know how that feels and it hurts.
“But at the end we have no other choice but to stay strong and try to go through that period and try to do our best on the pitch. Yeah, to keep being successful, that’s what matters.”
Asked how Sterling has held up in the days since the alleged incident, Gundugan said his team-mate has been handling the situation fine, and praised Chelsea for their response.
“He has been normal. I think he made his point clear through Instagram, giving a statement on that. I don’t know if there is any more to say but this is obviously something that doesn’t belong anywhere in the world.
“I think he got a lot of support this week. I think also the way Chelsea reacted was good. It’s something we all have to fight; we all have to play our individual roles to make it better for everyone.”