The row broke out when the footballers posted a photograph of himself training ahead of the World Cup tournament. The tattoo on his right calf was criticized by Lucy Cope, who founded campaign group Mothers Against Guns after her son Damian was shot dead outside a central London nightclub in 2002.
British television personality with close to seven million followers on Twitter, Piers Morgan, has also condemned Sterling.
Social media users have retaliated with a string of comments, pointing out that a number of footballers have gun tattoos and take gun-related poses. They have also posted images of the Arsenal FC crest, featuring a canon.
Yes Raheem Sterling is a role model for young kid, but it proves once again a few weeks before a world cup or euros come around, our own bloody media have sensationalize everything that the players wear, do, or anything negative, just lay off the poor guy. and any other player— Jamie Willis (@TheHomeEnd86) May 29, 2018
Those people frothing at mouth because Raheem Sterling is 'glamourising weapons' with his discreet tattoo will have a coronary if they ever visit the Emirates Stadium… pic.twitter.com/r6gSanSG0U— NewsThump (@newsthump) May 29, 2018
Last point on @piersmorgan's constant digs at Raheem Sterling today…— HLTCO (@HLTCO) May 29, 2018
He's chosen to slate him over an image of a gun tattooed on his leg without recognising nuance or context, by that measure, this picture of him firing an actual A-15 for TV ratings whilst at CNN is far worse. pic.twitter.com/2ywVBUCmHo
Raheem Sterling poisoned the Liverpool dressing room beyond repair. See below, Firmino & Mané preparing to mass murder innocent supporters. pic.twitter.com/Do3f7vNCwQ— Jamie Wilkinson (@parkedthebus) May 29, 2018
Alberto Moreno doesn’t cover up his tattoo. Damien Delaney doesn’t cover up his tattoo. De Rossi doesn’t cover up his tattoo. Raheem Sterling gets one with genuine relevance and meaning to a tragic event in his life and all he gets is criticism. Utter agenda against him pic.twitter.com/WgPqlckERg— Sterling (@sterlingese) May 29, 2018
Guess the media forgot to scrutinize Moreno and Lavezzi as well as Raheem Sterling too? 🤷🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/ZHi9o7aaOk— QuinnanSamuel (@quinnansamuel) May 29, 2018
Funny, I don't remember The Sun or Piers Morgan screaming their outrage at Robbie Keane's continuous use of the "gun fingers" celebration… pic.twitter.com/9lKfIMMJRy— HLTCO (@HLTCO) May 29, 2018
Looking forward to more Piers Morgan faux outrage when Iwobi scores and does his usual celebration. pic.twitter.com/akxum79MQO— GeorgeWeahsCousin (@WeahsCousin) May 29, 2018
Guys don’t let Piers Morgan see these. Not sure his precious little heart could take this betrayal from the club he supports. pic.twitter.com/frkrS1IvzO— James Benge (@jamesbenge) May 29, 2018
Sterling has explained the meaning of his tattoo, saying it represented a promise to "never touch a gun" after his father had been "gunned down to death."
"I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished."