Raheem Sterling has triggered the fury of anti-gun campaigners — by unveiling a new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his right leg, The Sun reports.
Sterling posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St George’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: “That tattoo is sick.”
An anti-gun campaigning mother whose son was shot dead said Sterling’s new tattoo is “an absolute disgrace.”
Lucy Cope, 63, of Mothers Against Guns, said it was “sickening” he was showing off the inking to his Instagram followers — many of them impressionable youngsters.
And she called for the 23-year-old Manchester City striker to be dropped from England’s World Cup squad unless he gets rid of it.
She added, “This tattoo is disgusting. Raheem should hang his head in shame. It’s totally unacceptable.
“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.”
Others backed the calls for him to have the tattoo removed, with Piers Morgan writing, “Get that gun off his leg.”
Boxing legend Frank Bruno also threw his weight behind the calls, saying, “Couldn’t agree more with you, Piers Morgan.”
But when challenged by people on Twitter that boxing was a violent sport, he added, “I respect what you’re saying but boxing has a ref, medics on hand & choice!
“No one is there when you are getting shot or stabbed.”
More than 60 people have been killed in gun and knife murders so far this year in Sterling’s hometown of London.
Sterling wrote, “When 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.”
An FA spokesperson said, “We all support Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave.”
“He and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup.”
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.