Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2019-20Getty Images

Kitson apologises for Sterling abuse comments as he bids to be PFA chief

Dave Kitson has stressed his comments about Manchester City star Raheem Sterling from 2018 were misinterpreted as he bids to lead the Professional Footballers' Association. 

The former Reading and Stoke attacker was slammed after claiming that Sterling's use of social media gave people a reason to dislike him. 

England defender Tyrone Mings protested against Kitson's comments at the time by pulling out of an interview with TalkSPORT

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Kitson has however stressed his comments were 'morphed' and that he'd never condone any sort of abuse having himself been on the end of some after a social media post. 

“The day after my retirement I was kicking my heels, and I saw there was a convention taking place at a hotel close to my house. The hotel has been converted from a stately home and it was hosting a Ferrari convention," Kitson was quoted by the Mirror.

“I went up there with my son for a look and said to him: ‘Take a picture, this will be funny.' So he took a snap. I'm standing outside the hotel, in between two Ferraris.

“Without thinking, I posted it to my Instagram account with the caption: 'Bored on the first day of my retirement'. It was a poor attempt at ironic humour.

“People who know me will know that I've been through the mill financially. People who don't saw it as an expression of a glamorous lifestyle deserving vilification.

“The abuse I took was unreal. There were hundreds of responses. The majority of them included the words, 'flash,' 'ginger' and far worse.

“It really took me by surprise...the anger and nastiness. I didn't really think the world was that harsh.

“Two or three years later, I was speaking on TalkSport and asked to give my opinion after Raheem had been viciously abused while playing for Manchester City at Chelsea. It was horrific.

“I couldn't help but think back to the episode when I suffered a backlash as a result of posting glamorous lifestyle photos online.

“I said that I'd looked down Raheem's social media feed and that while in the beginning it was about his cars and houses, I was pleased to see he had changed it because there is a lot of jealousy out there and I knew what it was like to have been on the end of unwarranted abuse.

“I said that it gave people a reason to dislike him as a person. Not that he had done anything wrong on his social media account but it gave certain people a platform to vent their ill-informed, ugly views.

“But I'm distressed that this has somehow morphed into a suggestion I condoned the shocking abuse Raheem suffered or that he otherwise asked for it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Perhaps I used clumsy language and for that I apologise. But I never have and never will condone any form of racism.

“I admire Raheem for taking up the fight and saying: 'No, I'm not having this'. And I agree with him. More needs to be done. And I'm prepared to do it.

“And if he, or anyone, wants to discuss that matter with me, and what I intend to do, I'm more than happy to have that chat and put his mind – and that of other players - to rest."