James McClean (right) tangling with Jordan Cousins during the game between Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City. John Walton

Investigation begins as QPR condemn fans who directed abuse at McClean

The club is seeking to identify fans who targeted the Ireland international during Saturday’s game.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS have opened an investigation into the abuse directed at James McClean by a section of the club’s supporters during their game against Stoke City.

McClean played all 90 minutes of Saturday’s goalless draw in the English Championship, which was took place at QPR’s Loftus Road stadium in West London.

A video which has been shared on social media appears to show McClean being targeted over his refusal to wear a poppy to mark November’s Remembrance Day.

In a statement issued today, QPR condemned the abuse of the Republic of Ireland international, adding that they are now attempting to identify those responsible.

The statement reads: 

Queens Park Rangers Football Club is aware of a video circulating on social media showing a section of individuals abusing James McClean during our Championship fixture with Stoke City on Saturday, 9 March. The club wholly condemns such abuse and an internal investigation is now under way as we seek to identify those involved. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”

McClean has regularly had to contend with such treatment from fans during his time as a professional in England, which began when he signed for Sunderland from hometown club Derry City in 2011.

He later moved on to Wigan Athletic, where he penned an open letter to club chairman Dave Whelan in 2014 which explained his stance on the poppy.

“I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars — many I know were Irish-born,” McClean wrote. “I have been told that your own Grandfather Paddy Whelan, from Tipperary, was one of those.

“I mourn their deaths like every other decent person and if the poppy was a symbol only for the lost souls of World War I and II, I would wear one. I want to make that 100% clear. You must understand this.

James McClean McClean playing for the Republic of Ireland against Northern Ireland last November. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“But the poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me. For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different.

“Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history — even if like me you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth.

“Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles — and Bloody Sunday especially — as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.”

He added: “I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong. In life, if you’re a man you should stand up for what you believe in.”

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