Negative press coverage of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling "emboldens racist rhetoric", says the Professional Footballers' Association.
Sterling, 24, posted on Instagram on Sunday saying newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" by the ways in which they portray young black footballers.
Sterling was allegedly racially abused during City's 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.
"It is evident that he is often singled out and treated more harshly than his colleagues," said a union statement.
"As such, these stories are fuelling racism within the game, as reports of racist abuse continue to rise.
"We have been aware for a few months of the targeting Raheem faces in the press."
Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the claims from Saturday's Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.
England international Sterling said he "had to laugh" when he heard the alleged racist remarks because he expects "no better".
"All I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance," he added.
According to figures from anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, reports of discriminatory abuse in football increased 11% last season - a sixth successive annual rise.
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said it condemns the increase in racial abuse its members have been receiving and encourages all clubs to "take the strongest possible action for fans found guilty of racially abusing players".
Its statement added: "While it may be true that no racial slurs have been used in the press coverage received by Raheem and others, we are in no doubt that the negative narrative influences public opinion and emboldens racist rhetoric."
Simone Pound, PFA head of equality and diversity, said: "Raheem has made a stand by speaking out and we stand shoulder to shoulder with him against the discrimination of which he speaks. We all have a part to play in tackling racism and discrimination and certain sectors of the media must be held to account.
"The PFA are resolute in their work, challenging and tackling equality issues on behalf of the players."
In his social post, Sterling cites newspaper headlines about Manchester City team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying houses.
The headline referring to 21-year-old defender Adarabioyo - who is on loan at West Brom - focuses on how he spent £2.25m on a property "despite having never started a Premier League match".
By contrast, midfielder Foden, 18, "buys a £2m home for his mum" and is later described as having "set up a future".
Anthony Joseph, who wrote the Mail Online article about Adarabioyo, has described the reaction to his story as "astonishing", saying it was "topical and not based on race", and a follow up to a story in the Sun.
He says he has received racist abuse over it, including since Sunday.
"The story was done in January at a time when BT aired a documentary on teenage footballers who are earning millions. It was topical and there was a huge debate about it. The same day there was at least an hour segment about the same issue on Talksport," said Joseph.
"I spoke to the player's agent, who had no issue with the story at the time and how it was represented."
Joseph says Mail Online stories are written by a different title and editorial team to the Daily Mail, which published the article on Foden.
"Reporters don't do headlines at Mail Online but I still don't feel it vilified him at all," added Joseph. "Nor did I even make a connection of his colour - it didn't even cross my mind.