The back-and-forth over Raheem Sterling's tattoo continues to burble depressingly on. Following a debate on Good Morning Britain as to whether Sterling should be dropped from the England squad as a result, the FA released a statement supporting Sterling, acknowledging "the honest and heartfelt account he gave", making reference to Sterling's explanatory Instagram post after the entire farrago kicked off.
When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning and [is] still unfinished."
Over the course of all of this madness, Sky have not covered themselves in glory. Sky Sports News issued an apology to Sterling for a subtle but significant error in their reporting of Sterling's Instagram post, erroneously claiming that Sterling posted "I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun again in my lifetime" [emphasis ours].
Sky Sports News said that this was "a mistake".
Nonetheless, the sorry fall-out continues. The reaction to the reaction to the story has entered the realm of whataboutery, with Phil Campion, a former SAS trooper now working as an author and a presenter on Sky, highlighted James McClean's tattoos in tribute to his home city of Derry and called for him to be banned from the sport.
Nothing to say about James McClean (West Brom) and his terrorist supporting tat then. Absolute disgrace, should have been banned from the sport. pic.twitter.com/mxa2ByfZOC
— BIG Phil Campion (@bigphilcampion) May 31, 2018
It's not the first time McClean's political beliefs have been criticised in England. McClean is annually booed by English crowds for refusing to wear the poppy symbol ahead of Remembrance Sunday, in spite of a very clear explanation as to why he doesn't wear it:
If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims alone, I would wear it without a problem. I’d wear it every day of the year if that was the thing, but it doesn’t, it stands for all the conflicts that Britain has been involved in.