Update: FA underlines support for Raheem Sterling amid gun tattoo controversy

Update 4.55pm: The Football Association has expressed its support for Raheem Sterling amid scrutiny of the England forward's gun tattoo.

Tuesday's edition of The Sun made ripples as the front page focused on the 23-year-old's latest piece of body art.

Sterling is currently preparing for the World Cup with the England squad at St George's Park, where he made a swift response via an Instagram Stories post on Monday night.

The Manchester City forward wrote: "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."

The FA underlined its support for Sterling on Tuesday afternoon, with a spokesperson saying: "We all support Raheem Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave via Instagram last night.

"He and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup."

Earlier: England's Raheem Sterling defends 'disgusting' assault rifle tattoo

England forward Raheem Sterling has defended his new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his leg after it was branded "disgusting".

The 23-year-old, who plays for Manchester City, posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St George's Park, with a tattoo of an assault rifle on his 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 2002, 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."

Lucy Cope, of Mothers Against Guns, whose 22-year-old son Damian was shot dead outside a London nightclub in July 2002 (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
Lucy Cope, of Mothers Against Guns, whose 22-year-old son Damian was shot dead outside a London nightclub in July 2002 (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

But the former Liverpool player, who is among five England strikers heading to Russia for the World Cup, alluded to the tattoo having a "deeper meaning".

In a post on Instagram, he 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."

Gary Lineker is among those who have come to the defence of Sterling, writing on Twitter: "Unique to this country to attempt to destroy our players morale before a major tournament. It’s weird, unpatriotic and sad."

- PA

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