Stoke City’s Skybet Championship clash with Huddersfield Town was called to a stop this afternoon when James McClean was subjected to abusive chanting from the stands.
Huddersfield Town have confirmed that they are to investigate claims of sectarian abuse aimed at the Irish international after the winger reported such to match referee James Linington.
Linington stopped play in the 64th minute of Stoke City’s 5-2 win to inform both managers that McClean had reported the issue. The Derry man then applauded when the announcement was made over the tannoy as fans were warned: “offensive behaviour is affecting the game and will not be tolerated.”Despite the huge win for McClean’s side, talk following the game surrounded the off-field incident that had taken place.
Stoke City’s head of media and communications Fraser Nicholson addressed the issue at the post-match press conference:
“Just to provide some context for that, James McClean is being encouraged to report abuse that he receives that’s of a sectarian nature to the match official. He did it on Boxing Day when he was subjected to it by Sheffield Wednesday fans and obviously felt the need to do it again.”
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill condemned the actions of those involved while also claiming that McClean was well within his rights to report the issue to the match officials.
“He’s 100% right to do so,” O’Neill said.
“There’s no place for this in football stadiums, obviously there’s no place for sectarianism or racism, abuse of players or supporters or anyone for that matter.”
“We will investigate the situation and make sure the people involved in it are duly punished, and so they should be because any type of discrimination to me is unacceptable,” Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley said following the match.