Four Chelsea football fan accused of racially abusing England star Raheem Sterling apologised for his behaviour last night.
Colin Wing, 60, was caught on camera hurling insults at the Manchester City player in a Premier League match at Chelsea on Saturday.
Footage appeared to show him calling Sterling a ‘f****** black c***’ while other Chelsea fans shouted non-racial abuse.
Mr Wing said: ‘I’m deeply ashamed by my own behaviour and I feel really bad.
‘But I didn’t call him a black ****, I called him a Manc c***.
‘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.
‘Nobody around me said they heard anything. I want to apologise unreservedly to Raheem and hope he can be a better man than I am by accepting it.
‘I offer him an unreserved apology. Even if it wasn’t racist, it’s not right what I said. Even the swearing is bad – but I got carried away.
‘I was completely out of order, but I’ve lost my job and my season ticket now so everybody’s got what they wanted. So why can’t they leave me alone?’
Mr Wing, who supports Chelsea, said police spoke to him twice on Saturday without levelling any charges.
He and three other men have been suspended from attending Chelsea’s home matches at Stamford Bridge. Several of Mr Wing’s neighbours instantly identified him from CCTV footage and matchday photographs.
One said: ‘It’s mortifying to think somebody capable of that could be living along your street.’
Another said: ‘We need to stay out of this and think about our young son, but it’s unbelievable to think the man we just heard about on television might be a neighbour of ours.’
A third neighbour described Mr Wing as a ‘scumbag’.
Sterling, who was interviewed by officers on Sunday morning, said he heard racial abuse from the stands. No arrests have yet been made and inquiries are continuing.
Chelsea’s own investigation into the incident used TV footage from many angles to identify the offenders.
The club are also using lip-readers to try to establish which words were used.
Racial abuse, if proven, would lead to a life ban.
Another Chelsea fan called TalkSport radio yesterday to admit he was one of the men who were suspended.
Going by the name ‘Dean’, he apologised for the abuse he launched at Sterling but said he was not the man alleged to have racially abused the 24-year-old.
He added: ‘I didn’t say anything racist, but I do admit swearing at him and calling him an embarrassment to England. I don’t defend it.
‘It was a passionate game and we needed to win, but that really is no defence. I apologise for anything I said that was offensive. On behalf of the other fans it just abhors me and I’m just really sorry. That language shouldn’t have come out, even what I said shouldn’t have come out.’
RAHEEM STERLING STATEMENT
Raheem Sterling posted a statement on Instagram on Sunday morning addressing the incident at Stamford Bridge. It read:
‘Good morning. I just want to say I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point to (be) heard I will speak up.
‘Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.’
Sterling also said that he believed black players and white players were not treated equally by the media, including the Daily Mail and Mail Online, and that he believes this helps ‘fuel racism and aggressive behaviour’.
Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright said ‘the bad old days are back’ when sharing a video of the incident on Saturday, adding that Chelsea had been ‘shamed’ by the fans.
Labour MPs Bill Esterton and Alex Norris also tweeted their support for the striker after he spoke out on Sunday. ‘Raheem’s right. We need to kick racism out of football,’ wrote Mr Norris.
A Chelsea spokesman said: ‘Our investigations into this matter are ongoing. We are fully supporting the police investigation and any information we gather will be passed on to them.
‘If there is evidence of ticket holders taking part in any racist behaviour, the club will issue severe sanctions, including bans.