Northern Ireland news

Abusive packages sent to James McClean over Poppy decision

Stoke City's James McClean has claimed he is being discriminated against for being Irish and Catholic
Seamus McKinney

Republic of Ireland footballer, James McClean has been sent what has been described as “abusive packages” following his continuing refusal to wear a Remembrance Day poppy.

The Derry man’s football club, Stoke City confirmed yesterday the packages were sent to a training ground with McClean’s name on them.

While the club did not divulge the contention of the packages, they mark an escalation in the campaign of intimidation against the star.

McClean was booed by a section of Middlesbrough fans and some Stoke fans as he left the pitch following last weekend’s game after which he described them as “uneducated cavemen.” He also criticised the Football Association’s decision to investigate his comments while ignoring the threats and abuse he endures on a weekly basis. McClean said he was singled out for attack because he was an Irish Catholic.

His wife, Erin McClean also revealed details of online abuse against her, including a threat to tattoo a poppy on her face.

In the latest development Stoke City manager, Gary Rowett said his player was wrong to criticise his own fans in the way he did.

“We can’t condone that but I think when you understand the background to his beliefs and you see that his family have had death threats; you see that his wife and kids have had abuse constantly; you see that he’s been sent stuff in the post, which I’ve seen recently, from fans and you can understand in a way why he reacts,” he said.

The Stoke City boss said the abuse suffered by McClean and his family was “pretty, pretty bad.”

McClean's case has also been taken up by the group representing Irish professional footballers. The Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland called on the English and Scottish associations to investigate all incidents of anti-Irish discrimination.

The organisation said: “Racism on the basis of colour, nationality, religion or ethnicity is not acceptable and all within the game have a responsibility to respond appropriately.”

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