Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean has issued a defiant statement amid reports that the English FA has launched an investigation into comments he made on social media which included a quote from IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.
McClean, who plays for Championship side Stoke City, had posted comments on instagram comparing fans who sing an “anti-Irish song” about him to “uneducated cavemen”.
McClean, who has come under intense criticism for his refusal to wear a poppy on his jersey, began his instagram post with a quote from Bobby Sands, reading: “They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.”
He continued: “Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst.. to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank yous.. to the section of uneducated cavemen in 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 (sic).”
Amid widespread reports that the FA is investigating, McClean again took to social media to post a statement.
This time, the former Derry City FC player wrote: “The FA are investigating me after Saturday’s event, for what exactly?
“Yet week in week out for the past seven 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 to, they turn a blind eye and not a single word or condemnation of any sort.
“Huddersfield away last year, while playing (for) West Brom, there was an incident which their fans 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’.”
He continued: “If it was a person’s skin colour, or if it was anti-Mulsim, someone’s gender, the(re) would be an uproar and it would (be) tak(en) in a complete(ly) different way and dealt with in a different manner but like in Neil Lennon(‘s) case in Scotland because we are Irish Catholics they turn a blind eye and nothing is ever said and done...”
Meanwhile, Manchester United FC midfielder Nemanja Matic has also declined to wear a poppy on his jersey.
The Serbia international was spotted without the poppy during his team’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.
The 30-year-old also took to instagram to explain his reasons.
He referred to the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war.
“I recognise fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict,” Matic wrote.
“However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999.
“Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don’t feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt.”
He continued: “I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined.”
He added: “I hope everyone understands my reasons now that I have explained them and I can concentrate on helping the team in the games that lie ahead.”