Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.03 17 Feb 2021


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Footballer James McClean says he's not the only player receiving 'horrendous abuse'.

The 31-year-old Republic of Ireland international and Stoke City player has received 'non-stop' sectarian abuse for almost a decade now.

While James has highlighted the issue in the past, his wife Erin this week made an impassioned plea for more to be done regarding the most recent abuse her family has received.

Recent weeks have also several prominent Premier League players speak out about the racist abuse they've received online.

James spoke to OTB AM - the sports breakfast show on Off The Ball - today about the abuse footballers have to deal with.

He observed: “People are stuck indoors, and are probably on social media a lot more than normal. It’s not just me - I don’t want this to be about me. All our players are getting horrendous abuse as well.

“It almost becomes like a craze… becomes popular.”

He says the abuse needs to stop for other players who also dream of playing football in the UK.

He read out one message that had been forward to him by his brother Patrick, a footballer with Glentoran:

"I'm sorry what I said about you and your brother and your brother's kids. I don't want them to burn in a house fire. I would much rather James go up in flames on a chair while his kids are tied up opposite to him on three separate chairs to watch their dirty, stinking, Fenian, rebel bastard of a Dad burn to a crisp. Maybe that's better than dying in a house fire."

James said this was a message that appeared to have been 'sent from a kid'.

He observed: "You’re thinking wow, where did that hate [come from]? That hate shouldn’t be in you at that age.

“Social media and society nowadays… it’s a dangerous place.”

James - who is the father of three young children - said: "How do you sit your kids down and tell them their Daddy is hated so much? It is a really difficult one."

He also spoke about an 'ill-judged' incident where he posted a photograph of himself wearing a balaclava - something he says was initially meant to be a joke.

He said: “I tried to remove it… but on social media these days people screenshot everything that’s out there.

“It almost now gives people justification for their actions… they post the balaclava picture and say ‘he brings it on himself’."

While James has been "quite critical" of his teammates in the past for not supporting him, he says they've been "absolutely brilliant" this time.

He said: "They’ve come out publicly and supported me.

“They have no idea how much their support means not just to be, but also to my family.”

Main image: File photo of James McClean. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

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