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01st Jun 2019

James McClean says being a ‘white Irishman’ is not ‘high on the agenda in England’ after abuse from fans

Patrick McCarry

James McClean is disgusted at the English FA for what sees as double standards and their failure to properly address a problem unless it is highlighted in the media

Back in November, James McClean was targeted with vile abuse by a section of the Middlesbrough crowd during a Championship game with Stoke after his refusal to wear a poppy.

Derry native McClean, who has stated his opposition to wearing the Remembrance Day symbol, was confronted by fans trying to get onto the pitch and having to be held back by match stewards and police.

In the aftermath of that match, McClean commented on social media that those abusing him were “uneducated cavemen” and he was then reprimanded by the Football Association.

Early last month McClean opted to share some of the vile correspondence he regularly receives. One tasteless rejoinder read: “They should have put the Waffen SS in Ireland. They would have used scorched earth tactics not like British politicians licking IRA arses.”

Kick It Out, in England, released a statement soon after that condemned the abuse that McClean had received.

The Ireland international has now commented on how Raheem Sterling win awards and praise from the wider community for highlighting racist abuse and asked why shining a light on anti-Irish hatred gets nothing more than tokenism. To McClean, both forms of abuse are wrong and should be confronted in the same manner.

On Friday, McClean told reporters at a ‘Soccer Sisters’ event at the Aviva Stadium: “The only reason I highlighted [the abuse] was to prove a point and I proved it right – that Kick It Out and the FA are a bunch of hypocrites, a bunch of cowards.”

He added, “what Sterling got is nothing compared to what I’ve got for the past seven or eight years. And there hasn’t been a peep, a single word or contact. I got a token gesture from Kick It Out after people highlighted it and went after them.

“Nothing will ever be done. I’m a white Irishman, to put it bluntly. That’s not high on the agenda in England.”

The 30-year-old says he does get a lot of support from players, in private, about being so forthright with his views but few are willing to back him in public.