An outraged James McClean calls out fans over sectarian abuse heard during the Wigan v Bristol City match on Saturday afternoon.
The Ireland international was also seen making a gesture in the direction of the home end before taking to Instagram after the game to explain why he did what he did.
McClean gets this kind of abuse and taunts on a regularly basis from opposition supporters, at every club he has played for in England.
However this is the first time he had abuse from the home end of DW Stadium, something that could take a toll on his stay at the club, especially if this starts to become a thing with home fans.
“To shed some light on the situation at half-time today, few vermin (grown men) in the home end decide to go to a game of football to shout sectarian abuse and sing a song that celebrates the death of Catholics all first half at me,” he posted on Instagram.
“Not regulars by the way, which make their actions more pathetic.”
In 2021, Wigan Athletic wrote to EFL rivals, warning clubs that the Football Association will charge them if the Republic of Ireland international James McClean is subjected to sectarian abuse in their stadium.
Wigan advised them to “consider putting plans in place to respond to any inappropriate or unlawful chanting”. It is a proactive move by the Latics, for whom McClean played previously between 2013 and 2015.
“I am raising these matters with you to ensure you are fully sighted on the circumstances and to avoid your club being charged with contravening rule E20 by the FA,” reads the letter from Wigan’s stadium safety officer and head of football administration, which goes on to thank clubs for their support. “If there were any issues during the game, it would also be helpful if you spoke to James to advise him of the action taken.”
McClean also spent the previous three seasons at Stoke City after leaving West Bromwich Albion. In 2020, Barnsley were fined £20,000 after some of their supporters directed sectarian abuse at McClean and the FA criticised the Championship club for not doing anything to “prevent or deter such behaviour”.
In the same year, Huddersfield fans were warned over the public address system about their “offensive behaviour” after their game against Stoke was stopped in the second half, after McClean reported abuse to the referee.
McClean has said he has received “more abuse than any other player” during his 10-year spell in England, feeling singled out for sectarian abuse after opting against wearing a poppy on his matchday shirt in recent years in respect of those who died in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972, a matter on which he has been vocal.
Of his decision in 2014, he said: “I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong.”
The Football Association of Ireland offered its support to McClean after he suffered online abuse. McClean revealed he had been sent death threats via messages on Instagram and called for sectarian abuse to be taken seriously. “Is being abused for being Irish and anti-Irish abuse acceptable?” he said.
The Professional Game Match Officials were asked to report any instances of abuse of which it becomes aware. Against Barnsley in November 2019, McClean reported he had been “racially abused” to the referee, who advised the fourth official, who informed both clubs and stewards. Wigan have discussed the reporting procedure with McClean, the FA, the PFA, Kick It Out, the English Football League and Greater Manchester police.
“I’ve been getting this every week in the last eight, nine years since I’ve been in England. I’ve just learned to roll with it. It doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me.
“I think I’ve been very vocal in the last few years because, in a way, I’m probably to blame in the sense that I didn’t really follow up and go after the right people.
“I shouldn’t have had to anyway because that’s their job. Discrimination is discrimination. They shouldn’t need me to basically cry about it so they do their job,” McClean said.
The English FA have taken a more serious stance on combating racism in recent times, which inspired the Irishman to speak out about the abuse directed towards him.
“I thought, ‘Hold on a second. I’ve been getting this for the last eight, nine years. So why has no one spoken up then? I’m going to challenge them.’ “I’ve been very critical publicly about the powers in England, and rightly so.
“I think the moment it changed was the moment my daughter started asking me at games… ‘Daddy, why are they booing you and saying nasty things to you?’
“As a father, that’s a conversation I shouldn’t have to have and one I don’t want to have.’ As much as I’ve said it doesn’t bother me, if I’m having to answer questions to my daughter [about the abuse] that’s different.
“I went after the FA and the powers that be and to be fair to them, they’ve been brilliant since,” McClean commented.
The abuse directed towards McClean doesn’t tend to differentiate much and the Irish international summed up nicely the lack of thought behind the insults.
“A lot of it is, ‘F**k the IRA.’ I can deal with that because I’ve never been a member of the IRA. Obviously there’s, ‘F**k the Pope.’ All that stuff. Your usual, ‘Irish c**t.’ and ‘You Fenian this.’
“We played Middlesbrough away and we had a corner. My job on attacking corners was to stand at the keeper.
“I’m standing there and Darren Randolph was the keeper. Middlesbrough fans behind the goal were shouting, ‘You f**king Fenian c**t. You Irish c**t.’
“And I’m going, ‘Your goalkeeper’s Irish. You’re cheering for him.’ There’s just a complete lack of education. It’s that mob mentality. They’re just absolute mindless idiots. That’s all they are really,” McClean said.
Fans react as an outraged James McClean calls out fans over sectarian abuse…
@RJBlakeley: Yep find um and ban um for life we don’t want their kind at Wigan
@ndrewwafc: Surely no match going Wigan fans would do this. Makes no sense, must be one offs? If not then that’s a disgrace and they should be banned for life or drowned in the canal
@dhwafc83: I don’t get how nobody has said anything in the stand and got the stewards to turf them out. Words fail me
@FazStuart: Nobody in West Stand says anything apart from moaning about the East Stand clientele and the manager’s substitutions….
@jamulligan78: I was appalled to read this – obviously nobody should have to deal with what James McClean deals with, but I feel it more today because James was so good with my nephew who walked out with him as a mascot today. Hope they’re arrested if identified, never mind banned.
@wafchornby: How somebody’s not thrown them down the stairs? Hopefully he knows it’s not real Wigan fans
Name shame and ban for life
No place in football in any club
@ruthlessinfo: James Maclean is a good honest hard working Irish ☘️man who loves his family and children loves playing football gives everything in a match also puts up with a hell of a lot they wasn’t in es2 that’s for sure they would have been skins alive an thrown on the pitch
— Colin Tickle (@TickleColin) August 13, 2022