Liverpool police are investigating allegations that a newspaper article about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley constitutes a "racial hate crime".
In an article on Friday, Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie compared Barkley whose grandfather was born in Nigeria, to a "gorilla at the zoo".
Police confirmed they were investigating the "full circumstances".
The 23 year old England international, who shares a link with Nigeria through his grand dad, was punched in a Liverpool bar last weekend in what his lawyer described as an "unprovoked attack".
MacKenzie targeted both England international Barkley and the city of Liverpool in the article.
City of Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told BBC he reported the article to the police for a "racial slur".
SAnderson 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."
He tweeted later to say he had reported the article to Merseyside Police and the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The controversial 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 which claimed Liverpool fans were to blame for the tragedy, in which 96 people died.
However, 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.
MacKenzie had already apologised in 2012.