A Sunderland fan has pleaded guilty to leading a train of 20 others in a “f**k James McClean” chant as well as other sectarian, homophobic and racist slurs in April of this year.
McClean is no stranger to abuse from fans and has come under fire over the years for his refusal to wear the poppy for Remembrance Day commemorations and must constantly defend himself over his reasoning behind his decision.
The fan in question, Ryan Slater, was up at North Tyneside Magistrates Court who heard that he was the ring leader of a group who began chanting abuse about Muslims, homosexuals and the IRA.
Prosecutor Clare Irving told the court that the group were “in drink and really loud” while also outlining that chanted “f**k James McClean” with their actions upsetting some passengers who ended up leaving the coach.
Slater described his actions as “football banter” and he didn’t believe them to be taken in an offensive way before telling the court “I apologise for my behaviour – It won’t happen again.”
He was fined £200 (€220) and ordered to pay £85 (€93) prosecution costs and a £30 (€33) charge.
In a way this represents a positive with authorities finally showing signs of cracking down on the constant abuse McClean suffers but more still needs to be done.
The 30-year-old was the subject of a hate-filled birthday card earlier in the year, but the English FA did not release a statement condemning the abuse, with McClean describing them as a “bunch of cowards.”
“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.”
McClean was also targeted by fans on the first weekend of the season, with Kick It Out releasing a statement outlining that they “are liaising with the police and have informed the FA of all the incidents, so that whoever is responsible can be brought to justice.”
More still needs to be done over targeted abuse of players on the field as well as off it, with Twitter confirming earlier this week that they have agreed to meet with Kick It Out, and representatives from Manchester United – another small step in the right direction.