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FAI and PFA condemn social media abuse and death threats directed at James McClean

The Ireland and Stoke City winger has highlighted the ‘anti-Irish abuse’ he has received.

Republic of Ireland and Stoke City winger James McClean.
Republic of Ireland and Stoke City winger James McClean.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland [FAI] and England’s Professional Footballers’ Association [PFA] have this evening condemned the recent social media abuse and threats directed at James McClean.

The Irish international has been vocal on the matter of late, sharing examples and highlighting what he believes to be a different attitude towards “anti-Irish” abuse sent his way, while a tougher stance has been taken with regards other insults — racist or otherwise — sent to footballers online recently.

McClean wrote on Instagram on Friday: “Does being abused for being Irish and [is] anti-Irish abuse acceptable? Is it not popular enough to be seen to be knowledged [sic] or spoke about too? I have highlighted the abuse publicly on social media recently and the silence from everyone is deafening.”

He recently shared a message he received in which a social media user suggested they would burn down his house with his family inside it.

This evening, his wife Erin opened up on the impact of the abuse, revealing that she once watched a game in “absolute fear” after an another anonymous individual said they would be bringing a gun.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that either one of us don’t receive a message of some sort, whether it be a threat or else telling us to get the f**k out of England,” she wrote on Twitter.

“And to be honest it’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t affect us. However we have three very young children who are now at an age where they know and understand these things being said.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 20.45.28 A recent Instagram story of McClean's, showing private messages he received. Source: James McClean Instagram.

“Of course we have tried as hard as possible to keep them away from it all but there has been times where we are out shopping and there are people making remarks towards James in front of the kids. They don’t deserve this.

“People ask me ‘How do you deal with it?’ and I always say we’re well used to it but why should we be? Why should we have to read messages like that daily for almost a decade.

“We’ve been spat at, shouted at, nights out have been ruined by people making remarks towards him. I even remember someone threatened him saying they were taking a gun with them to a certain match and I can still remember watching that match in absolute fear on the TV.”

McClean’s stance towards the poppy has made him a target for English fans through the years, and recent messages have led to the PFA and FAI lending their support.

“The sectarian abuse that Stoke City winger, James McClean, received over the weekend on social media is totally unacceptable,” this evening’s PFA statement reads.

“No player should have to face abuse based on their race, religion or nationality. We stand with all players against discrimination.”

The FAI also offered the Derryman and his family its full support.

“The Association has reached out to James in light of this most recent incident and assured him that the FAI will assist him in any way it can,” a statement reads.

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“The FAI remains committed to safeguarding all of our players against any form of abuse on any social media platform,” FAI CEO Jonathan Hill said.

“To abuse or threaten James or any player because of his nationality should not be tolerated by society. Unfortunately, such behaviour is all too common now on social media.

“Only last week we commended the stance taken by English football against the abuse of footballers across all social media channels and we are examining how best we can take a similar stance.”

In the statement, the FAI also confirmed that it is currently working on new Racism and Discrimination policies which will be presented to the Board in coming weeks.

Intercultural Programme National Co-ordinator Des Tomlinson is leading the developments, and he added: ”

The latest incident involving James and his family highlights how important this work is and why football needs to take action.

“In recent times many of our players have been victims of social media abuse, hate speech and threats including Jonathan Afolabi, Cyrus Christie and James. It is not acceptable and I will assure James of our full support as he deals with this.”

Former Irish international and The42 columnist David Meyler also shared his thoughts on Twitter today:

“I’m actually lost for words looking at James McClean’s Instagram. The amount of death threats and abuse he receives daily is shocking and yet it’s never mentioned anywhere by any media outlet.

“When will it stop? And when will these people be held responsible? This isn’t acceptable.”

- first published at 20.57

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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