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PFA statement condemns 'vile abuse' of Ireland international James McClean

‘It has become clear that this type of abuse is on the rise and is becoming a weekly occurrence for James.’

James McClean with Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill.
James McClean with Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill.
Image: Richard Sellers

THE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS’ Association has pledged its support to James McClean following the latest bout of sectarian abuse aimed at the Republic of Ireland winger while he was on club duty.

McClean, who plays for Stoke City, was the victim of discriminatory chants from sections of the crowd during his team’s 5-2 win away to Huddersfield Town on New Year’s Day.

Huddersfield have launched an investigation into the abuse, which caused the game to be paused briefly when McClean raised the issue with referee James Linington.

The 30-year-old Derry native applauded when fans were warned that “offensive behaviour is affecting the game and will not be tolerated” by a tannoy announcement.

“James has been subjected to this type of vile abuse throughout his career, and he will be fully supported in the same way as any other individual who receives abuse based on their race, religion or nationality,” said a statement issued by the PFA, the union which represents professional footballers in England.

“The PFA have previously advised James to report sectarian chanting to match officials and we are satisfied that in this instance the protocol was enacted. However, this action in isolation is not sufficient.

“We welcome that Huddersfield have committed to a full investigation to identify offenders; we hope that the perpetrators will face further consequences from both within and outside the game.

“In addition, as with other forms of discrimination, it has become clear that this type of abuse is on the rise and is becoming a weekly occurrence for James.”

Since taking his career to England in 2011, former Derry City player McClean has regularly been targeted with sectarian chants due to his refusal to wear a poppy.

The PFA statement continued: “We will be talking with PGMO [Professional Game Match Officials] and the EFL [English Football League] to ensure that match officials are vigilant to this type of chanting and hope to see future action taken proactively on James’ behalf.

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“There is no justification for this or any other type of abuse and the PFA stands fully beside every player who faces discrimination.

“In December, we called for a government enquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football and will continue to pursue this issue.

“Stakeholders within the game must work in partnership with the government, police and clubs to drive this agenda and set a zero-tolerance policy within stadiums.”

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Paul Dollery

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