James McClean: Stoke and Republic winger pleased with response to sectarian abuse

McClean praise for O'Neill managers over abuse

Stoke City winger James McClean has praised the action taken by football authorities after he was subjected to sectarian abuse during matches.

The Republic of Ireland international has been targeted for not wearing a poppy on his shirt for games scheduled around Remembrance Day.

"The authorities in England - the FA, EFL and Kick It Out have been great and the Staffordforshire police," he said.

"The last few games have been a bit more quiet and I hope it continues."

McClean is from Derry, where in 1972 British soldiers shot civilian protesters during Bloody Sunday.

Barnsley were charged by the Football Association after the 30-year-old was allegedly subjected to sectarian abuse in the Championship game between the two sides in November.

Sectarian chants were allegedly aimed at McClean in the New Year's Day game at Huddersfield.

QPR launched an internal investigation last year after a video circulating on social media showed a section of Rangers supporters shouting obscenities at the Irishman and asking him "where's your poppy?"

McClean was speaking at the launch of a new sensory hub at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, benefiting people with special needs including his youngest daughter Willow, who has autism.

McClean backs Aviva Stadium sensory initiative

He added that the abuse is "water off a duck's back" to himself but he highlights its impact on his other daughter, who is six, and his four-year-old son - both still attend games

"She's starting to ask questions about why I'm getting abused and what it means," he said.

"As a parent it's not nice having to explain that to them - having to sit down with your children to explain why their Daddy's being abused.

"Why should they miss out because of mindless idiots in the crowd who are abusing, shouting, whatever. It would be unfair not to bring them."

McClean has been particularly helped by two managers, who like him are Catholics from Northern Ireland.

James McClean and Martin O'Neill
James McClean emerged as was a key player for the Republic under manager Martin O'Neill

Michael O'Neill is his current manager at Stoke while he has played under Martin O'Neill at Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland.

"It's better because they have an understanding, they know where I'm coming from - it helps massively," added McClean.

"The other managers have been brilliant but don't have that background."

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