Guardiola praises Sterling over handling of alleged abuse

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaks during a press conference at The City Football Academy in Manchester on Tuesday, ahead of the English Premier League club's UEFA Champions League match against Germany's Hoffenheim.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hailed Raheem Sterling as an "incredible person" after the English forward hit out at the media coverage that he said helps fuel racism.

Sterling made the comment on Sunday a day after he faced alleged racist abuse from a supporter during City's 0-2 English Premier League defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"Raheem said it perfectly. He is an incredible person, an incredible human being," Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.

"In the 21st century it's tough to understand today what happened years ago for black people. You have to protect how equal we are together and help us to be better.

"Racism is everywhere, it's not just in football. We have to fight to make a better future for everyone, not just in England but everywhere."

Chelsea has suspended four supporters from attending matches pending investigation and the Metropolitan Police are reviewing the video footage of the incident.

"I appreciate what Chelsea did and if it happened in my club we would do the same," Guardiola added.

The Professional Footballers' Association was critical of media's portrayal of Sterling, saying the England international and former Liverpool player was often singled out.

When asked if Sterling faces a harsh treatment from the media, Guardiola said: "I don't know. When I arrived here I spoke with him because I know he was so active on social media.

"You expect it (negativity) when he's played bad, but just for the color of his skin? No."

One of the suspended Chelsea supporters has admitted directing abuse at Sterling but said the vitriol was 'not racist in nature'.

"I'm deeply ashamed by my own behavior and I feel really bad," Colin Wing, 60, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Wing said he used an expletive along with the word "Manc" rather than "black".

"I've been going to Chelsea for 50 years now and, because of where I sit, I'm picked up on the camera most weeks. If I had a history of saying this sort of thing I would've been caught by now," he added.

The supporter offered his apologies to the player and said he had lost his season ticket and his job.

"Even if it wasn't racist, it's not right what I said. Even the swearing is bad — but I got carried away," he added.

Meanwhile, Swiss club FC Zurich has condemned fans who threw a banana at rival player Aldo Kalulu when he went to take a corner during its league match at FC Basel on Sunday.

Zurich admitted the banana came from the part of the St Jakob Park stadium occupied by its supporters.

"In the early stages of (the match) against Basel, a banana was thrown out of FCZ's fan zone towards FCB player Aldo Kalulu when he went to take a corner," the club said in a statement.

"The club strongly condemns this racist behavior and does not tolerate it in any way. There is no room for xenophobia and discrimination in football.

"FCZ has always been committed to diversity and welcomes all people, regardless of their background or religion."

Kalulu, a Frenchman of Rwandan descent, was also pelted with cigarette lighters when he went to take the corner in the 9th minute of Basel's 2-0 win, media reports said. The 22-year-old joined Basel in June from Olympique Lyonnais.

The Swiss Football League has yet to comment on the incident.

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