Cape Town - The Professional Footballers Association has released a statement in support of Raheem Sterling following alleged racial abuse at Chelsea on the weekend.
Manchester City’s unbeaten run of 21 matches came to halt on Saturday with a 2-0 loss against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
There was an incident involving Sterling in the first-half as he went to collect the ball from behind the goal line. Television cameras showed a Chelsea fan hurling abuse at the forward. The club and metropolitan police are currently investigating the incident.
"The PFA condemn, in the strongest terms, the increase in racial abuse our members have been receiving from the terraces,” read a statement.
“We encourage all clubs to take the strongest possible action for fans found guilty of racially abusing players.
"Over the past two weeks, we have seen two alleged high-profile racist incidents happen from the stands at Premier League games. We stress to all clubs the importance of dealing with these incidents robustly. It is not acceptable for our members to find themselves subject to racist abuse, simply for showing up to work and performing for their team.
"This weekend, following the video footage appearing to show a fan shouting racist abuse at Raheem Sterling, we have been in close contact with his agent, and extend our full support to Raheem.
"We commend Raheem for his professionalism during the incident and the statement he made via Instagram on Sunday.
"We stand with him in calling for the press to consider the coverage of all footballers carefully, and to end their imbalanced coverage aimed at young, black players."
The statement went on to cite numbers released by Kick It Out - an anti-discrimination charity - that revealed the number of reported incidents of discriminatory abuse was up 11 percent from last season. A total of 53 reports of the 520 reported incidents were racism related.