James McClean reveals he received gun threat on eve of Premier League game in 2012 that left his wife ‘watching in absolute fear’ as Stoke winger says he gets anti-Irish abuse on social media ‘every day’
- Stoke City winger James McClean has spoken out against social media abuse
- He says he receives anti-Irish abuse ‘every day’ as well as death threats
- One message this week threatened to ‘burn down his house with kids inside’
- In 2012, police were involved after a threat to bring a gun to one of his matches
- His wife Erin admitted she watched the game on TV ‘in absolute fear’
- McClean caused controversy by refusing to wear the poppy on his shirt
James McClean has revealed police were involved after a social media user threatened to bring a gun to a match he was playing in.
The Republic of Ireland international was with Sunderland team-mates preparing for a Premier League fixture against Fulham at Craven Cottage back in 2012 when he received the death threat.
His wife Erin this week said this particular set of messages were just one of many that left her fearing for the safety of her husband and their three children over recent years.
Stoke City’s James McClean has spoken out about anti-Irish abuse he receives on social media
The Republic of Ireland international says he received abusive messages on a daily basis
James McClean shared a death threat he received on his Instagram profile over the weekend
McClean has been the target of sectarian abuse – both online and in stadiums – since he refused to wear a poppy on his shirt almost 10 years ago.
The winger’s decision not to wear the poppy as a symbol of remembrance is a show of support for his home city of Derry in Northern Ireland, scene of the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972.
He was fined two weeks’ wages by Stoke and deleted his Instagram account in March last year after posting a picture showing him wearing a black balaclava while teaching his children what he described as a ‘history lesson.’
The post triggered a backlash with the balaclava carrying clear connotations to the Irish Republican Army [IRA].
McClean was also targeted by trolls ‘wishing he would die’ when he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this season.
McClean responded to social media trolls who hoped he died of Covid-19 after he tested positive for the virus last year
James McClean posted his image of himself wearing a black balaclava in front of his children – he was fined two weeks’ wages by Stoke
Speaking out about the abuse this week, Erin McClean said: ‘Once someone threatened him saying they were taking a gun with them to a certain match and I can still remember watching that match in absolute fear on the TV.’
Recalling the incident, McClean, who now plays for Stoke City, told Sky Sports News: ‘The death threats were all over social media the night before.
‘The police came to the hotel and checked that I was safe in my room. It was a live game on Sky and Erin was watching and worrying about what could happen.
‘I don’t think I was ever truly in danger but they are still death threats. Erin is a bag of nerves because she worries a lot more than I do.
‘With three young kids it’s not something she should have to put up with.’
McClean posted this message asking why anti-Irish abuse wasn’t treated the same as other forms of discrimination
McClean on the ball during Stoke’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday evening
Earlier this week, McClean, 31, shared a screengrab on his Instagram account of threatening messages sent directly to him.
Among them was a message that read: ‘Don’t make me set your house on fire and burn everyone inside it.’
Speaking out against the abuse he receives, McClean called for more support against anti-Irish abuse, saying it should be treated the same way as other forms of abuse.
He wrote: ‘So much coverage this past couple [of] weeks about discrimination and the condemnation of it across media outlets, players, ex-players etc. which is great to see because it’s wrong and idiots should be held responsible for their actions and words as nobody should be subjected to that.
‘Does being abused for being Irish and [is] anti-Irish abuse acceptable? Is it not popular enough to be seen to be… spoke out about too?’
In the Sky interview, McClean added: ‘The first few lines of what you’ve seen on my Instagram this week is something I get every day.
McClean has been targeted with sectarian abuse in the past for refusing to wear the poppy
‘It’s easy to let that go but then you see the other line about burning down the house with your kids inside. That is just a sick person.’
The abuse isn’t confined to social media either with McClean and his family targeted in the street in the past.
He said: ‘I remember pulling up to traffic lights in Sunderland and someone wound down the window and spat at the car. The light turned green and they sped off. Erin was pregnant at the time with our first child.
‘There are other times I’m out with the kids and there are remarks made. People don’t care if I’m out with my kids.
‘It’s a situation I shouldn’t have to be in when out shopping or going for food. It doesn’t happen all the time but there’s a risk it’s going to happen every time I go out.’