James McClean’s life was threatened by someone who said they would take a gun to one of his matches, the Stoke winger’s wife has revealed.
Erin McClean, coming out in support of her husband after he was forced to speak out once again on Sunday night to highlight the abuse he has endured for nine years, said she watched the game in “absolute fear on TV”.
She added that “there isn’t a day that goes by that either one of us don’t receive a message of some sort, whether it be a threat or else telling us to get the f*** out of England”.
Republic of Ireland international 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.
“We’ve been spat on, shouted at, nights out have been ruined by people making remarks towards him,” McClean’s wife posted on her Twitter account.
“I even remember once someone threatened him saying there were taking a gun with them to a certain match and I can still remember watching that match in absolute fear on the TV.”
McClean’s wife believes his treatment in the media has only fuelled the abuse he receives.
“For James it always seems the media (except a select few) shy away from speaking up for him and have always bashed him when he’s done anything,” she added.
“Every single article over the years that’s been written about James (whether good or bad) has always brought the poppy into it.
“He may have just given to charity, but they always make sure to mention ‘it’s that one who doesn’t wear the poppy’. It was almost 10 years ago. The media can certainly control public opinion.”
The abuse and threats, whether online or in person, have become part of the McCleans’ daily routine.
McClean, 31, and his wife are used to it by now, she says, but they are concerned for the wellbeing of their three young children who are “now at an age where they know and understand what is being said”.
“We have tried as hard as possible to keep them away from it all but there has been times we are out shopping and there is people making remarks towards James in front of the kids,” she said.
“We can take the name-calling and the rest but what we cannot accept is threatening our family home and our children’s lives. They don’t deserve this.
“Why after 9 years of constant abuse should we be OK and have to accept receiving these threats constantly?”
McClean unhappy with ‘deafening silence’ as abuse continues
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”.
The 31-year-old had posted a statement on his Instagram page on Friday and asked: “Does being abused for being Irish and anti-Irish abuse acceptable? Is it not popular enough to be… spoke out about too?
“I have highlighted the abuse publicly on social media recently and the silence from everyone is deafening!”
FAI condemns McClean abuse
FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill issued a statement on Monday evening condemning the abuse.
“The Football Association of Ireland condemns the latest social media threats aimed at senior Irish international team player James McClean and offers James and his family our full support at this difficult time,” he said.
“The Association has reached out to James in light of this most recent incident and assured him that the FAI will assist him in any way it can.”
Hill continued: “The FAI remains committed to safeguarding all of our players against any form of abuse on any social media platform. To abuse or threaten James or any player because of his nationality should not be tolerated by society. Unfortunately, such behaviour is all too common now on social media.
“Only last week we commended the stance taken by English football against the abuse of footballers across all social media channels and we are examining how best we can take a similar stance.”
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