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Guardiola says racism is everywhere and praises ‘incredible’ Sterling

Pep Guardiola has said “racism is everywhere” and has to be fought each day. Manchester City’s manager was speaking after Raheem Sterling was allegedly racially abused at Chelsea.

Sterling was verbally abused on Saturday and the incident is being investigated by Chelsea and the Metropolitan police. Four Chelsea supporters have been suspended by the club. One of them pictured verbally abusing Sterling has reportedly denied any racial element.

On Sunday Sterling highlighted on Instagram the differing newspaper coverage of Phil Foden and Tosin Adarabioyo with regard to them buying houses for family members.

Guardiola, asked whether Sterling suffers abuse because he is black, said: “Really, I don’t know. I spoke with him when I arrived and he was active on social media and Instagram and I told him to protect his private life, and he did it. He’s less active than when he was young, more mature, on and off the pitch – he has two kids. I don’t know the reason why. Hopefully the criticism [only] is when he plays shit, he plays bad.

“But just for the colour of his skin – believe me that’s ridiculous and that’s why everyone … we have to protect from that situation.

“The media, of course [has a responsibility] – everyone and everywhere has. You can write something and offend, create a conflict. Today the real power is the media, not politicians, not the governments, it’s the media. That’s why you have the possibility.”

Guardiola’s view is that racism is widespread. “Racism is everywhere; people focus on football but it’s not just in football. How we treat immigrants and refugees, when once in our lives our grandfathers were refugees. How we treat them in society – it’s everywhere. That’s why we have to fight every day.

“I appreciate what Chelsea did. If it happened in my club we should do the same. We have to fight for human rights to make a better society for the future. Today it’s dangerous not just in England, all across Europe. The message for the politicians is for them to be tough on human rights and we have to defend democracy in the best way.”

Guardiola praised Sterling. “He’s an incredible person,” he said. “It’s tough to understand today what happened to black people in all history. You have to protect them, how equal we are, all together. It’s tough in the 21st century to still be in this position. To have problems with diversity.

“We have to be better, everyone. Sport is amazing because you live through different people. My kids go to school, with English, black people, [people] from everywhere. Today this happens but we have to defend and protect.”

Sterling has explained why he feels it is important to speak publicly about important issues.

“I’m about sharing so that stuff that has happened to me could help someone else as well,” he told the Glass Magazine. “There was a time when I tried to hold stuff back but I know now that there is a 15-year-old boy just like Raheem, or a girl just like Raheem, that will go through these things and hopefully hearing these things from me and not keeping it to myself will help.

“I’d like to know I could have helped someone else that is going through something similar. Not everyone is the same but I want to help them along their journey, that’s what I want to do. I always think of the kids from the next generation, you know the kids from London or Manchester or wherever they’re from.”

On Wednesday City play Hoffenheim in their final Champions League group game in the midst of an injury crisis. David Silva will be out a for “few weeks” and Fernandinho is also injured, along with Danilo. Sergio Agüero, Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy remain out and this has left Guardiola with 15 fit players. “Sergio may be back at the weekend,” he said.

City need a point to guarantee their passage to the knockout stage as the group winners. They are aiming to bounce back from Saturday’s first league defeat of the season at Chelsea.

Guardiola said: “It’s incredible to review the game and how we played considering the huge quality of the opponents. We had an incredible first half except for 18 minutes when there was a little mistake in our movement.

“The rest of the game we played with courage. Football is what it is. Sometimes you accept it. We could have avoided the two goals – two mistakes for the first goal and they scored. That can happen when you play against a good team. If you make mistakes against good teams – Champions League teams, Chelsea – always you concede. It’s part of the process and we have to learn.”

Leroy Sané has indicated he could soon sign a new contract. “I felt really at home here from day one and of course it is possible,” the Germany forward said. “From the beginning since I arrived here, I am really happy.”

City have announced that the 23-year-old goalkeeper Zack Steffen will join in July from Columbus Crew on a four-year contract. The MLS side said the fee for Steffen, who has six USA caps, was “the largest in club history and most ever received by an MLS club for a goalkeeper”.

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