“They’re a bunch of cowards the footballing authorities. They’re a bunch of hypocrites.”
James McClean has hit out at the English FA, for their lack of action over sectarian abuse the Derryman has received recently and throughout his career.
Every year, around November, McClean is targeted by fans on social media and in football grounds over his refusal to wear the Remembrance Day poppy, while also finding himself the victim of a number of isolated incidents of high-profile sectarian abuse throughout his career in English football.
Last month, on his birthday, the 30-year old received a card at the Stoke training ground which contained a stream of vitriolic and abusive comments about the Irishman’s nationality.
McClean took to Twitter to share the card and despite receiving support from fellow pros like Jon Walters and Kieren Westwood, the English FA did not release a statement condemning the matter.
The association has recently been clamping down on racism in the English game following a number of high profile incidents, some involving Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, however, McClean doesn’t feel the FA are doing enough about sectarian abuse.
Speaking to Pundit Arena at the SPAR FAI Primary School 5’s National Programme finals, McClean expressed his frustration at the association, calling them “cowards” and “hypocrites” for their lack of action over the card he received, outlining that he has been subjected to more abuse than Sterling and has been vilified, with the England international heralded as a hero.
“They’re a bunch of cowards the footballing authorities,” began McClean.
“They’re a bunch of hypocrites. Sterling is this and he’s that, he’s a hero, he’s getting awards.
“What I get week in and week out compared to what he’s gotten maybe one week or one game, I’ve gotten for the last seven or eight years and there hasn’t been a word so they’re a bunch of hypocrites, a bunch of cowards.”
The Stoke City man continued, outlining that he doesn’t receive the same level of support as Sterling because he is a “white Irish man” using the example of the abuse Neil Lennon so frequently suffers to further hammer home his point.
“To put it bluntly, I’m a white Irish man. That doesn’t matter to them. This kind of thing happens to Neil Lennon doesn’t it, he gets abused about being Irish, this and that, and nothing gets done.
“The proof is in the pudding, isn’t it? If you’re a white Irish man no one cares.”
Kick it Out, the organisation which supports equality in football were the only ones to release a statement, which McClean referred to as “measly” outlining that it “meant nothing” to him.
McClean has been the subject of abuse from English fans for a number of years now, but outlined that he does not let it affect him, explaining that he only shared the card on his social media to highlight the fact that, had he not been “a white Irish guy” there would have been more uproar from the footballing authorities.
“It’s just water off a duck’s back now.
“It’s been going on the last seven or eight years so for me it’s just nothing but the reason I put the card up was to highlight the fact that if I wasn’t a white Irish guy there would’ve been a bigger uproar and I was right in doing that because there’s still nothing so my point was proven right.”
A criticism that is often levelled at McClean is that he should not live and work in England if he is not willing to wear the Remembrance Day poppy and adhere to the traditions of the country.
So what does McClean say to people who feel this way?
“If I had to live and work in Dubai would they make me wear a burka? No. Where you live and work doesn’t mean you have to bow to their culture or principals”
The 30-year old also highlighted that he feels the authorities need to show equality in dealing with both racism and sectarian abuse as, at the end of the day, they are both examples of discrimination.
“It’s pretty clear what the authorities have to do,” McClean explained.
“What they’re doing with the whole Sterling thing. Don’t be a hypocrite. Racism, sectarianism, it’s all the same, isn’t it? It’s discrimination.”
McClean concluded that despite the severity of the incident, he himself did not contact the police – “I’m not a grass” – and again hammered home the point that he never wanted praise for highlighting the issue, it was simply a case of showing up the footballing authorities for the “hypocrites that they are.”
“I don’t want praise. The only reason I highlighted it was to prove a point between the Sterling thing and myself. I don’t want the praise, they can ram their praise for all I care.
“It was just a matter of highlighting the difference and showing them up for the hypocrites that they are.”