FAI offer 'full support' to James McClean after threats made on his family's lives

Tue, Feb 16 2021

The Derryman has been singled out for the majority of his ten-year stint in English football for sectarian and anti-Irish abuse. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

The Football Association of Ireland have offered support to James McClean after he and his family’s lives were threatened on social media.

The Stoke City winger went public on Instagram with a string of abusive messages he received on the platform which culminated in a threat to ‘set your house on fire and burn everyone inside it.’

International teammates Darren Randolph and Shane Duffy condemned on their own feeds what have been regular and consistent abuse and threats against the 31-year-old.

The Derryman has been singled out for the majority of his ten-year stint in English football for sectarian and anti-Irish abuse.

McClean was abused for the majority of his time in England following his decision to eschew wearing the Rememberence Day poppy in respect of those killed in Derry by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday.

He branded the football authorities in England 'hypocrites and cowards' for failing to deal with the consistent abuse meted out to him at grounds in England and online.

Recent months have seen more attention paid to the routine racist abuse targeted at Black players, including Irish players David McGoldrick, Jonathan Afolabi and Cyrus Christie.

Christie spoke of his frustration at how the Gardaí dealt with abuse he received at an Ireland match, while a Kerry teenager walked free after directing racist abuse at Ian Wright online.

McClean’s wife, Erin, took to the platform on Monday to detail the effect the targeted harassment, which has included being spit on, has had on the family.

“I even remember once 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,” she said.

“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*** out of England.”

In a statement issued on Monday evening, FAI CEO Jonathan Hill said the association reached out to the Derry native to offer their ‘full support.’

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

“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.”

Intercultural Programme National Co-ordinator Des Tomlinson has been heading the FAI’s work on new racism and discrimination policies, which will be presented to the board in the coming weeks.

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

“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.”

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