Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has come out in support of Raheem Sterling calling him an "incredible person" and hailing the uniting power of sport amid allegations that the player was subject to racial abuse at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Speaking to the media ahead of City's Champions League clash on Wednesday against Hoffenheim, Guardiola spoke highly of Sterling's qualities as a human being.
"Leroy said it perfectly, he is an incredible person. Raheem is an incredible human being," the City manager said.
"It's tough to understand today what happened years ago, for the whole history for the black people."
"You have to protect how equal we are, all together. It's tough to understand in the 21st century, we are still in that position – not to accept the diversity that helps us to be better."
The City boss also spoke about how amazing sport is because it manages to unite people beyond all divides.
"That is why sport is amazing. You live with different people. My kids go to school with Indian people, with black people, normal people, from everywhere. We have to defend and we have to protect them [those who are abused]," Guardiola was quoted as saying by Independent.
Sterling himself made a post on Instagram blaming the media for propagating racism with their biased reporting – a matter that hits very close to home for the City forward.
View this post on Instagram
Good morning I just want to say , I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point to heard I will speak up. Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better. For example you have two young players starting out there careers both play for the same team, both have done the right thing. Which is buy a new house for there mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are, but look how the news papers get there message across for the young black player and then for the young white payer. I think this in unacceptable both innocent have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded. This young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an aggressive behaviour, so for all the news papers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all i have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an give all players an equal chance.
Guardiola went on ruefully to add that racism is not restricted to football and should be met with zero tolerance.
"Unfortunately it is everywhere. That is why you have to fight every day. There [must be] zero tolerance on that issue," he said.
"We have to fight for the human rights and for everything to make a better society for the future, for everyone. Today we are in dangers. Not just in England, everywhere. Absolutely everywhere, all across Europe."
Guardiola finished off by saying that it is ridiculous that Sterling has to face criticism for his skin colour despite being outstanding at his job.
"Hopefully the reason would be a criticism if he plays s**t or plays bad. That would be perfect! Everyone is exposed to that, the managers and the football players."
"But just for the colour of his skin? Right now, that is ridiculous. That is why everybody has to make the effort to protect this situation."