The club has now suspended four fans from attending matches and have said they are passing the results of their internal investigations on to the police.
Detectives have interviewed the Manchester City star, 24, but have not yet arrested the middle-aged man with glasses accused of screaming racist abuse at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night.
The incident has caused outrage and Mr Sterling has been praised for the way he laughed in the face of the abhorrent abuse.
Today Scotland Yard confirmed it has not yet spoken to the supporter who appeared to call the winger a ‘f****** black c***’ when he collected the ball.
But Chelsea are said to have identified him after studying CCTV footage in the stadium and TV pictures from BT Sport and have given his details to the Met.
This Chelsea fan (circled) allegedly shouted racial abuse at Raheem Sterling in a shocking incident at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea has now identified him and given his name to police
Raheem Sterling leaves training at Manchester City yesterday after allegedly being racially abused last night by Chelsea fans during a Premier League tie
The England winger was pictured for the first time since revealing he ‘had to laugh’ at fans who appeared to call him a ‘f****** black c*** at Stamford Bridge.
Joe Mercer was a few seats along when the incident took place during Chelsea’s match against Manchester City.
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The antiques dealer said in his 20 years as a Chelsea season ticket holder he has never heard any racist abuse hurled at visiting players.
There is no suggestions Mr Mercer, from Frimley Green, Surrey, had anything to do with the abuse. He said he has not been contacted by police or by the club.
He told MailOnline: ‘The first I knew about this was when someone called and said my picture was in the newspaper. I do not know the men alongside me. I haven’t a clue who they are and do not speak to them.
‘As you can see in the photo I was just getting up out of my seat. All hell was breaking loose and I did not hear any racist abuse or anything that was said. It was so noisy, and I did not hear what was being said.
‘It is unusual for a player to get so close as they do not normally go to pick up a ball.’
Mr Mercer said he had never heard racist abuse hurled at opposition players from his seat in the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge.
‘I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20 years and not heard anything like that,’ he told MailOnline. I am just an ordinary fan who supports the team.’
Mr Mercer, who also runs a removal firm, added: ‘The other men in the photo are a distance from and a few rows behind. There is also an aisle in between us. It is quite a large gap.
‘I don’t agree with players being abused. It is not on.’
Sterling appeared to laugh off the vile abuse; video footage appeared to show the fan (circled) saying ‘you f****** black c***’
The Met Police confirmed they are investigating an incident of alleged racist abuse towards Sterling. The man alleged to have committed the offence is obscured in this picture, which shows a number of other Chelsea fans jeering the player
In a statement released this evening, Chelsea Football Club said: ‘Chelsea Football Club has suspended four people from attending Chelsea matches pending further investigations into allegations regarding the behaviour of supporters towards Raheem Sterling during our match against Manchester City on Saturday.
‘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.
‘Chelsea Football Club finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent and if there is evidence of ticket holders taking part in any racist behaviour, the club will issue severe sanctions, including bans. We will also fully support any criminal prosecutions.’
Earlier Chelsea fan Nathan Lewis, who is black, was standing a few seats away from the men abusing Sterling.
Although Lewis did not hear any racism during the match, he was shocked by the television footage, describing it as ‘quite scary’.
‘A lot of people have been questioning me and my integrity as to why I didn’t get involved, why I didn’t react. But I didn’t actually hear anything racial from any section of the crowd, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,’ he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.
‘We all knew it was on TV because the camera was in front of us.
‘I think it’s disgusting. I’m right there, three feet away from him. He’s got no regard for me, Sterling either.
‘To see that happen on TV just a few feet away from me is quite scary.’
The England star put on a brave face as he was photographed leaving his club’s training ground in a black Mercedes 4×4 yesterday afternoon.
Sterling was interviewed by members of the Metropolitan Police on Sunday, who travelled north as part of their investigation into an incident during Manchester City’s match with Chelsea.
He confirmed to police he had heard racist insults and other foul language as he went to collect a ball for a corner near the Matthew Harding Stand.
Some of the biggest names in the world of football have praised the footballer.
Viv Anderson, the first black footballer to play for England, wrote in the Daily Mail today: ‘Raheem Sterling laughed in the face of those who he says racially abused him at Chelsea. What a powerful thing that was to see. It was the way those of us who have known discrimination have been dealing with it for years’.
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand suggested that footballers in England should be inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling gesture and launch their own bid to fight back against racism after this latest worrying incident.
Twitter users highlighted a first-half incident when a supporter at Stamford Bridge appeared to mouth the phrase ‘f****** black c***’ towards Sterling as he collected the ball in front of a section of Chelsea fans.
Pictures of the moment and a video widely circulated on social media appeared to confirm this, with one spectator allegedly making the racist comment amid a barrage of aggressive abuse from Chelsea fans towards Sterling.
Sterling suffered the abuse on his 24th birthday but it didn’t stop him celebrating with his family on Sunday afternoon
Raheem Sterling suffered alleged racist abuse at Chelsea on Saturday, just a week after a banana skin was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he scored against Tottenham.
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’.
The two high-profile incidents follow the release of figures showing incidents reported to anti-discrimination body Kick It Out increased last season for at least the fifth year in a row.
Kick It Out’s statistics for the 2017-18 season, published on November 28, showed a 22 per cent rise in racist incidents and an overall 11 per cent rise in incidents of discrimination reported at all levels of the English game.
The figures showed there were 520 incidents reported last season across Kick It Out’s various platforms, which include social media, its website and app.
That compared to 469 the previous season, continuing an ongoing trend after there were 402 reports in 2015-16, 393 in 2014-15, 284 in 2013-14 and just 77 in 2012-13.
Former England international John Barnes believes ethnic minorities would not have been surprised by the abuse suffered by Sterling as racism remains ‘prevalent’ in British society.
Barnes, capped 79 times by his country, was the victim of persistent racism during his playing days, including monkey chants and having bananas thrown at him.
The 55-year-old feels prejudice and discrimination extend far beyond football and stems from ‘hundreds of years of indoctrination’.
‘When people talk about, ‘Oh isn’t that terrible what happened to Raheem Sterling?’, you speak to black people in the inner cities and they say ‘this is what we go through every single day’,’ Barnes told BBC One’s Breakfast programme.
‘It’s not a surprise to us. It’s prevalent in society as you go into the inner cities and see how disenfranchised and what a lack of opportunities there are for members of ethnic minorities.
‘So why should football be any different?
‘Society has to change. The only way we can change racism is if we change the perception of the average black person in the street.
‘It’s a very long-term process, we’re talking about hundreds of years of indoctrination ensuring that there are certain groups of people who are more worthy than others.’
Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand made his views known on the Sterling abuse, posting on Instagram and Twitter: ‘Are we going to continue to allow this type of racist behaviour go on??? All for kicking a ball!’
Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton was racially abused in a match against Chelsea in 2011.
Blues captain John Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 after admitting using the word ‘black’ and swearing at Anton, although he claimed he had only been repeating words he thought the then-QPR defender had accused him of saying.
Rio’s Instagram post attracted a comment from Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who wrote: ‘We have to put a stop to this someway’.
Mr Ferdinand replied: ‘In the NFL the players took to the knee…’ He was referencing a movement spearheaded by former quarterback Kaepernick, who began a trend of kneeling during the US national anthem in protest against racism in America. Kaepernick famously explained his position: ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.’
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright also weighed in on social media, saying he is under no illusion as to what was said by the fan to Sterling. Wright said: ‘The bad old days are back! Chelsea you have been shamed by this disgusting racist fan! absolutely no doubt about what he says.’
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker branded the incident ‘despicable’ while BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey said: ‘If indeed it is proved to be racist abuse then I hope it’s a lifetime ban. No place for it in this world.’
Pundit and former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand expressed his disgust online on Saturday evening; Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright tweeted: ‘The bad old days are back’ and ‘absolutely no doubt about what he says’
Ferdinand referenced the NFL movement of taking a knee started by Colin Kaepernick (centre) of the San Francisco 49ers
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.
STATEMENT FROM KICK IT OUT
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out later issued a statement following the incident at Stamford Bridge
Here is the Kick It Out statement in full:
‘What happened at Chelsea shows what is still going on in football.
‘Where is (Premier League executive chairman) Richard Scudamore? Where is (FA chairman) Greg Clarke? Where is Chelsea’s chairman (Bruce Buck)? They should have been talking about it last night and it has to be dealt with at the top.
‘We do not have any leadership at the top of the game to speak out, they rely on Kick It Out. We have already made comments about the way Raheem Sterling has been treated differently by the media. The print media often targets not just black players, but all footballers.
‘Raheem Sterling has received bad press over the last few years because of his lifestyle, and clearly there are issues from potential stories adding to prejudice and I have every sympathy for him. Players know if they are abused in any way they have to tell the referee. It was awful. All players know the referee is in charge and has a duty of care, and the referee can remove those people. It didn’t appear to me he told the referee in the first place.
‘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 MailOnline, and that he believes this helps ‘fuel racism and aggressive behaviour.’
A Chelsea spokesman said: ‘We’re aware of reports and video footage. We will investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action where necessary.’
A Football Association statement read: ‘We take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and will work with the clubs and the relevant authorities to ensure this matter is dealt with appropriately.
‘We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and encourage all fans and participants who believe that they have been the subject of, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report it through the appropriate channels: The FA, our County FAs or our partners Kick It Out.’
The Met Police said: ‘We are aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player at a Chelsea v Manchester City game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, December 8.
‘We will review the footage to determine whether any offences have been committed.’
No arrests have been made, the Met added.
Should any offence have been made, a life ban could be handed to the supporter or supporters responsible.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out later issued a statement, which read: ‘We’ve received reports from a variety of sources about an incident of alleged racist abuse at the Chelsea-Manchester City game.
‘We will forward those to Chelsea and offer our support in their investigation.
‘Yet another great day of football damaged by prejudice.’
The PFA has been in contact with the England international to offer support and praised the restraint he showed at Stamford Bridge.
‘Raheem has made a stand by speaking out and we stand shoulder to shoulder with him against the discrimination of which he speaks,’ said Simone Pound, the PFA’s head of equality and diversity, in a statement.
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