The mayor of Liverpool has condemned a newspaper article about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley as “racist and prehistoric”.
Barkley, 23, was punched in a Liverpool bar last weekend in what his lawyer described as an “unprovoked attack”.
Sun columnist, and former editor, Kelvin MacKenzie has compared Barkley to a “gorilla at the zoo”.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he has reported the article to the police for a “racial slur”.
One of Barkley’s grandfathers was born in Nigeria.
In Friday’s article, MacKenzie targets both England international Barkley and the city of Liverpool, saying:
- Barkley is “one of our dimmest footballers”, also calling him “thick”.
- Barkley’s eyes make him “certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home”, adding: “I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo.”
- Men with similar “pay packets” in Liverpool are “drug dealers” and in prison.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Anderson said: “Not only is it racist in a sense that he is of mixed-race descent, equally it’s a racial stereotype of Liverpool. It is racist and prehistoric.”
Anderson later tweeted to say he had reported the article to Merseyside Police and the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
MacKenzie was editor of The Sun when it published a front-page article headlined ‘Hillsborough: The Truth’ in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s football stadium.
The article claimed Liverpool fans were to blame for the tragedy, in which 96 people died. MacKenzie apologised in 2012.
Last year’s landmark Hillsborough inquests recorded that the 96 fans were unlawfully killed and that Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup semi-final had played no role in causing the tragedy.
This Saturday, 15 April, marks the 28th anniversary of the disaster.
Burnley midfielder Joey Barton, who was an Everton youth player, tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working-class lad, are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It becomes outrageous.”
Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore tweeted: “Implied racism at its finest.”
A Sun spokesperson said: “Columnists are supposed to have strong opinions that provoke debate among the readers. However their views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.”
BBC Sport has contacted Everton, Barkley’s representatives and Merseyside Police for comment.