Celtic manager Neil Lennon has described the recent abuse of James McClean as “absolutely scandalous” after the Stoke winger highlighted more threats sent to him on social media.
On Sunday, McClean shared a direct message on his Instagram story sent to him from a user that said: “Don’t make me set your house on fire and burn everyone inside it”.
McClean’s wife also revealed her husband’s life was threatened by someone who said they would take a gun to one of his matches.
McClean has been the subject of sectarian abuse – both online and in stadiums – ever since he first refused to wear a poppy on his shirt almost 10 years ago.
Stoke and the FAI strongly condemned the abuse sent to McClean while Lennon, who has suffered similar sectarian hate for years and was most notably sent bullets in the post during his first spell as Celtic manager, says something has to change.
“I saw on Sky today the pressure that football is putting on these social media platforms. It should have been done a long time ago. These platforms don’t show any accountability or look after the people on the end of this constant abuse, whether racial, sectarian, personal,” Lennon said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“It’s a poison in modern-day society and it’s disgusting. I’m fed up talking about it because nothing gets done. It is about time these people are named, shamed, and dealt with by the police and/or courts.”
We stand with James McClean and his family.
There is 𝗡𝗢 room for discrimination of 𝗔𝗡𝗬 form.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) February 16, 2021
Lennon highlighted the abuse recently aimed at professional footballers playing in England, including McClean and Swansea midfielder Yan Dhanda, who was racially abused following Swansea’s defeat by Manchester City in the FA Cup.
“It’s almost as if it’s alright to do it now. Maybe you’ve had a few drinks, you don’t mean it…but it’s out there and you show no regard for the recipient, and I’m seeing a lot of it in English football now and it has to come to a head,” Lennon added.
“How would you do your job if people threatening you and your family? It would be so difficult for you. People will say he (James) is well paid but he is not well paid to take abuse from all and sundry about his background or his religion.
“The kid has to go out and play professional football – put yourself in his shoes, people threatening to burn his or making threats to his family on a daily basis. You would be looking over your shoulder every five minutes.
“I have been through it myself and it is a lonely place. It is okay people putting out statements saying you will support him, but do it, show it – associations, show it. It’s not just James, it’s all these kids who are getting racially abused in England as well, like the young lad Dhanda at Swansea. It is just absolutely scandalous.
“I’m glad that Sky as a public platform are making this really relevant now.”
Last Wednesday, Instagram announced it will impose stricter penalties including the removal of accounts to prevent abusive messages on its platform after a number of recent cases of racist abuse in football.
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