RaheemÂ Sterling has triggered the fury of anti-gun campaigners â€” by unveiling a new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his right leg,Â The SunÂ reports.
Sterling posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St Georgeâ€™s Park, with the tattoo on his right calf clearly visible.
They called for the striker, 23, to be dropped from the England World Cup squad, with one saying: â€œThat tattoo is sick.â€
An anti-gun campaigning motherÂ whose son was shot dead said Sterlingâ€™s new tattoo is â€œan absolute disgrace.â€
Lucy Cope, 63, of Mothers Against Guns, said it was â€œsickeningâ€ he was showing off the inking to his Instagram followers â€” many of them impressionable youngsters.
And she called for the 23-year-old Manchester City striker to be dropped from Englandâ€™s World Cup squad unless he gets rid of it.
She added,Â â€œThis tattoo is disgusting. Raheem should hang his head in shame. Itâ€™s totally unacceptable.
â€œWe demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo.
â€œIf he refuses he should be dropped from the England team.â€
Others backed the calls for him to have the tattoo removed, with Piers Morgan writing, â€œGet that gun off his leg.â€
Boxing legend Frank Bruno also threw his weight behind the calls, saying,Â â€œCouldnâ€™t agree more with you, Piers Morgan.â€
But when challenged by people on Twitter that boxing was a violent sport, he added,Â â€œI respect what youâ€™re saying but boxing has a ref, medics on hand & choice!
â€œNo one is there when you are getting shot or stabbed.â€
More than 60 people have been killed in gun and knife murders so far this year in Sterlingâ€™s hometown of London.
Sterling wrote, â€œWhen I was two, my father died from being gunned down to death. I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life. I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning.â€
An FA spokesperson said,Â â€œWe all support Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave.â€
â€œHe and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup.â€
Sterling, a child when his dad was shot dead in Jamaica, shared a picture of the new design on his right leg with his 3.6million Instagram followers.