James McClean has hit out against the Football Association for launching an investigation into the Stoke player after he described some of his own fans as “uneducated cavemen” on social media.
The Republic of Ireland international was subject to abuse from a group of home and away fans for not wearing a poppy during Stoke’s 0-0 draw with visitors Middlesbrough.
In response, the winger took to Instagram to condemn such abuse and singled out the “uneducated cavemen” from the Boothen End of the Bet365 Stadium.
After reports the FA are now investigating the remarks, McClean has vented his frustration against the governing body.
“The FA are investigating me after Saturday’s event, for what exactly?” he said in another Instagram post on Monday.
“Yet week in week out for the past 7 years I get constant sectarian abuse, death threats, objects being thrown, chanting which is heard loud and clear every week which my family, wife and kids have to listen too [sic], they turn a blind eye and not a single word of condemnation of any sort.”
“Huddersfield away last year while playing West Brom where there was an incident which [sic] their fans which was on the game highlights, where the cameras clearly caught it yet the FA when complaint was made to them said there ‘was not enough evidence’.
“If it was a person’s skin colour, or if it was anti-Muslim, someone’s gender they [sic] would be an uproar and it would taking in a complete different way and dealt with in a different manner. But like in Neil Lennon case in Scotland because we are Irish Catholics they turn a blind eye and nothing is ever said and done…”
McClean has made clear why he does not wear a poppy and, before Saturday’s fixture, Stoke confirmed in a statement that their player’s stance had not changed.
The 29-year-old made a late appearance in the draw at the Bet365 Stadium and was subsequently abused as he made his way to the players’ tunnel, with Middlesbrough fans seen booing and swearing at the winger as stewards attempted to push back the supporters.
Late on Saturday night, McClean, who was also booed by some home fans, responded by quoting Bobby Sands, a member of the Provisional IRA and MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, who infamously died in 1981 on hunger strike while imprisoned in Northern Ireland.
“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken,” McClean wrote, quoting Sands.
He continued: “Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst… to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you.
“To the section of uneducated cavemen in the left-hand corner of the Boothen End stand that want to song their anti-Irish song each game and call me a Fenian this and that… I am a PROUD FENIAN no c@#t will ever change that, so sing away.”
Gary Rowett, Stoke’s manager, defended his player and accused away fans of using it as an opportunity to “goad somebody”.
“It’s his belief and he’s strong enough to come out and with his belief, whether you agree with it or not,” he told the Stoke Sentinel.
McClean had confirmed earlier in the week he would not wear a poppy, a decision he has made every year – and been consistently abused for – since first moving to England to join Sunderland in 2011.
The Irishman was born in the city of Derry and grew up on Creggan estate, where six of the people killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972 came from.
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