Manchester City have asked to meet the body responsible for Premier League referees to discuss their concern at tackles being made against them.
The Premier League leaders have cited nine challenges this term which they say have not been suitably sanctioned.
City also want the rules changed so incidents can be reviewed even if they were punished by the match referee.
Although they have not yet canvassed opinion on the matter, they believe they would be backed by most top-flight clubs in that quest.
Manager Pep Guardiola expressed frustration at a number of fouls committed against his side this term, urging referees to protect his players.
Leroy Sane was ruled out for “six or seven weeks” after being injured in a challenge by Cardiff’s Joe Bennett in the FA Cup, with the winger one of seven senior City players currently sidelined.
Which nine tackles have City cited?
What is their argument?
After the win over West Brom last month – during which Brahim Diaz was caught with a high tackle by Matt Phillips – City chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain met.
They decided to write to the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), who are responsible for refereeing appointments in English leagues, to express their displeasure and request a meeting.
Their grievance surrounds the fact that, in seven of the nine instances, a yellow card was shown. Football Association rules dictate that, if the referee has taken action at the time, the incident is regarded as having been dealt with and cannot be reviewed.
The FA’s stance is that they do not want to re-referee games. However, City argue that “the Pandora’s Box has been opened” by the decision to allow instances of diving to be reviewed this season.
Do the stats support them?
City have won 22 of their 26 Premier League games to open up a 13-point lead over second-placed Manchester United.
But Sterling says some teams have resorted to kicking the league leaders once they go in front.
“Some tackles have been awful,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s not what I expect in a top-flight match, especially when teams are losing and go out to kick players.”
Sterling has been the Manchester City player fouled the most times in the league this season, but the England international ranks only eighth for the whole division.
The winger has drawn 44 fouls in 24 appearances in 2017-18, making him the only City player to feature in the league’s top 25.
Watford striker Richarlison leads the way after being fouled 77 times so far, with Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Swansea’s Jordan Ayew among those winning more free-kicks than Sterling.
Furthermore, City are only the 12th most-fouled team in the English top-flight this season, and only seven clubs have had more bookings and four more dismissals.
One of City’s dismissals was for Sterling celebrating with fans after his 97th-minute winner against Bournemouth and the other for Kyle Walker receiving two first-half bookings in the draw with Everton.