FOUL!
England's victory soured by burglary at Sterling's house
England’s forward Raheem Sterling during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and USA on November 25, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

JAMAICAN-BORN English forward Raheem Sterling flew home from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar after armed robbers broke into and raided his house while his partner and young children were indoors on Saturday.

Sterling missed England's 3-0 World Cup last-16 win over Senegal after he learnt what had happened.

He reportedly told England manager Gareth Southgate he is hoping to be back for the quarter-final with France on December 10. But Southgate said this wasn't a priority for Sterling or England at the moment.

"Raheem wanted to return home because he was concerned for his young children," British newspaper, The Mirror, quoted a source. "They were at home during the raid. He will come back to Qatar if he can, but he had to put his family first."

England's forward #10 Raheem Sterling (L) shakes hands with England's coach Gareth Southgate as he leaves the pitch during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and USA on November 25. (Photo: AFP)

Following the win over Senegal, Southgate, responding to questions from a journalist, said: "We will have to wait and see [if he will be back], at the moment, clearly the priority is for him to be with his family and we're going to support that.

"We're going to allow him to have as much time as he needs. He's going home, yeah. I really don't know because at the moment it's a situation in which he needs time with his family. I don't want to put him under any pressure. Sometimes football isn't the most important thing and family should come first."

Before the game the English Football Association [FA] had reported that Sterling has been ruled out of England's World Cup round of 16 match with Senegal because of a "family matter".

The FA did not provide any details for Sterling's absence when making the announcement 90 minutes before kickoff at Al Bayt Stadium.

"Raheem Sterling is not available for selection for the Three Lions tonight as he is dealing with a family matter," the FA said on Twitter.

The forward started England's opening two first round games in Group B and scored his first World Cup goal in the 6-2 mauling of Iran on November 21. But he was left out of the final match, a 3-0 win against Wales, just over one week later following a less than stellar performance in a nil-all draw with USA in-between the two games.

Former England stars Gary Lineker and Stan Collymore were among those expressing support for Sterling on social media on Sunday.

"Thoughts are with Raheem Sterling and his family after their awful and harrowing ordeal," said Lineker in a post on Twitter.

Collymore described the burglary as "truly awful, frightening and callous".

(See extensive coverage of the FIFA 2022 World Cup in the sports section)

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