The mayor of Liverpool has slammed a newspaper article about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, describing it as "racist and prehistoric."
Barkley was punched in what his lawyer called a "unprovoked attack" at a Liverpool bar, and The Sun columnist and former editor Kelvin MacKenzie likened the England midfielder to "gorilla at a zoo."
One of Barkley's grandparents is Nigerian, and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has revealed the article has been reported to the police for a "racial slur."
Reported McKenzie&the S*n for their racist slur on Ross Barkley and the people of Liverpool to Merseyside Police&press complaints commission— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) April 14, 2017
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."
The Sun remains unpopular in Liverpool thanks to their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, and in particular a front-page headlined with 'Hillsborough: The Truth' after the 1989 event at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium which claimed Liverpool fans were to blame for the deaths of 96 fans.
MacKenzie apologised in 2012, but still proceeded to publish a damning article regarding Barkley, likening his pay packet to that of a drug dealer, calling him "thick" and "one of our dimmest footballers" and claiming the England midfielder's eyes make him "certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home."
Footballers and pundits have slammed the article, with Stan Collymore describing it as "implied racism" and Burnley midfielder Joey Barton calling it "disgusting" and "outrageous."
Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working class lad are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It's becomes outrageous.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 14, 2017
A spokesperson for The Sun 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."
This Saturday marks the 28th anniversary of the disaster.