Ban the Arsenal badge? Sterling gun tattoo row leads to lampooning of Gunners logo
Sterling, 23, showed off the assault rifle inking while training with the England squad on Monday, triggering fierce debate over whether the tattoo was appropriate for someone considered a role model to many young football fans.
British tabloid the Sun led with the image on its front page, slamming the player with the headline “Raheem shoots himself in the foot,” while UK TV star Piers Morgan didn’t hold back, telling the England and Manchester City star to “get that gun off his leg.”
Tomorrow's front page: Raheem Sterling has triggered the fury of anti-gun campaginers by unveiling his new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle. pic.twitter.com/LdHfi6j3em— The Sun (@TheSun) 28 May 2018
However, others defended the player’s right to choose the tattoo, with former England striker Gary Lineker tweeting that the “persecution” of Sterling was “disgusting.”
That prompted a back-and-forth with Morgan, which led to liberal Twitter doyen Lineker dragging the TV presenter’s beloved Arsenal FC into the row.
“What next? Ban films with guns? The Arsenal badge? It’s his business what kind of art he has tattooed on his body,” Lineker wrote.
What next? Ban films with guns? The Arsenal badge? It’s his business what kind of art he has tattooed on his body. https://t.co/T6cnZxiZML— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) 29 May 2018
The Twitterati were only too happy to oblige at the suggestion of removing one of the essential elements from the London club’s badge, with Si Lloyd tweeting a pic of the Arsenal logo, minus the offending cannon.
Twitter users added to the thread to back both sides, with some calling avid Arsenal fan Morgan “a weapon” and suggesting that banning the Arsenal badge altogether “wasn’t a bad idea.”
Some made light of the other things that should potentially be banned in light of Sterling’s tattoo:
Gary, we must change the Scotland and England badges due to the deaths caused by Lions. And the Welsh too out of respect to Lord Tarly in Game of Thrones.— Andrew Weir (@a_weir) 29 May 2018
Others backed the TV presenter, with Twitter user Jeremy Skidmore saying: “There has to be a line, especially when you are a role model to millions. What if a footballer had a tattoo of a graphic sex act, or worse, attack on someone?”
@piersmorgan There has to be a line, especially when you are a role model to millions. What if a footballer had a tattoo of a graphic sex act, or worse, attack on someone?— Jeremy Skidmore (@jeremyskidmore) 29 May 2018
Morgan went on to cite his record of campaigning against gun violence, while Lineker implied that the former tabloid newspaper editor was merely seeking attention.
How patronising. I’ve spent 20 years campaigning about gun violence. So I most certainly do ‘give a toss’ about a tattoo of an assault rifle being used to promote a footballer’s shooting skills. I think it’s wrong. https://t.co/uYyYImvdSb— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) 29 May 2018
You can take the Editor out of the tabloid, but you can never take the tabloid out of the Editor. https://t.co/eqKLpX4g1q— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) 29 May 2018
Footballer Sterling, who is currently training with the England squad ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, has explained that the tattoo is a tribute to his late father, who was gunned down in Kingston, Jamaica, when the player was a youngster.
“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 lifetime I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
Sterling will be traveling to Russia with the England squad within the next couple of weeks, ahead of the team's World Cup opening game against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.