However, Sterling took to Instagram to explain the meaning behind his tattoo, opening up on how he vowed to never touch a gun, and that his father was shot and killed by one when Sterling was only 2 years old.
Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling has been forced to defend his new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle. He also added the tattoo had "deeper meaning" and was still unfinished. "Raheem should hang his head in shame". With the World Cup barely a couple of weeks away, there have been calls for him to be dropped from the England squad unless he has the tattoo removed, covered, or his leg chopped off.
The Sun ran a story about the tattoo on the front pages of Tuesday's edition of the newspaper, describing it as "sick".
And she called for the 23-year-old Manchester City striker to be dropped from England's World Cup squad unless he gets rid of it. Talented, determined footballer, role model for a lot of kids, a great success story.
The British tabloid media's odious obsession with Raheem Sterling shows no signs of abating ahead of the World Cup in Russian Federation this summer.
He wrote on Instagram: "When I was two my father died from being gunned down to death".
Iffat Rizvi, who runs the Starr anti-guns campaign, said: "This is disrespectful to young people who lost their lives".
Gary Lineker was among those defending Raheem Sterling, the former England global tweeted: "Unique to this country to attempt to destroy our players morale before a major tournament".
Many who tweeted their support highlighted the footballer's interaction with fans at a training event at St George's Park and other experiences of Sterling's character. "This persecution is disgusting".