James McClean wants 'equality not attention' after claiming he receives ‘more abuse than any player’ in wake of racism

JAMES McCLEAN has passionately explained his frustrations after almost a decade of vile abuse claiming he is the most targeted footballer in the country – black or white.

McClean posted on Facebook that he was angry at the way the game and wider society were showing rightful outrage at racist abuse aimed at Wilfried Zaha and David McGoldrick while ignoring the stick he has taken for the last nine years.

Stoke star McClean has been seen as a hate-figure by some simply for refusing to wear a poppy on his shirt to commemorate Remembrance Day, citing the Bloody Sunday killings in 1972 when British forces opened fire on unarmed protestors in his home city of Derry.

The Ireland winger has had bullets sent to his home, received countless death threats and regularly has ill-harm wished upon his family.

Speaking to TalkSPORT, McClean explained: “The point of the post was… you know, I’m seeing all this support for McGoldrick, Zaha and Sterling and that and rightly so, I don’t want to take away from the attention and the support they’re getting because it’s bang on, it’s absolutely correct and so they should.

“The point I was trying to make was, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth because I’m seeing all this support and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve been abused for the nine years, where’s my support been? Where’s my level of attention?’

“And when I say attention, I’m not looking for attention, in my mind discrimination is discrimination, but it almost seems that one holds a higher precedence over another, and that’s what irritates me.

“I’m not asking for sympathy or looking for attention, I’m just asking for equality, that’s it really.”

McClean added: "I’ve been getting horrendous abuse, I’ve had police at my door, at my family home, taking fingerprints when I was at Sunderland because there were bullets sent.

“We’ve had letters, birthday cards, it’s all been very well highlighted and attention brought to it by myself, but it all seems to fall of deaf ears.

“I have made mistakes, I am no angel at the end of the day, and people say ‘you’ve brought it on yourself’, but all this abuse started well before I done anything. I’m only human.

“I haven’t helped myself, and I agree with that. Before I have done anything I have taken years of abuse. You only have so much you can take.

“I shouldn’t have posed in a balaclava. I do regret that. It was supposed to be a joke but I understand the offence it might have caused and I take responsibility for that.

“But where has the outrage for the previous eight years of abuse? It’s almost been dusted under the carpet.

“I’m just looking for equality and asking to be treated the same, treated as one, and that’s never been the case and it is a bitter pill to swallow.

“We’re in the same profession here, we do the same job. Nobody should be allowed to say and do what they want without repercussions and up until now that’s just the way it has been.

I'm just looking for equality.

“I’ve had messages that I’ve highlighted again that say they hope my three young children attract Covid and die, and I’m thinking “this is my three children. I shouldn’t be receiving this, I shouldn’t have to put up with this.

“People wonder why I do sometimes react the way I do. At the end of the day if I wasn’t a footballer and wasn’t in the limelight, are you telling me that any other father in any other profession would just accept that? And that’s ok?”

On Monday, McClean wrote on Facebook: “Driving back from training while listening to TalkSport discussing the vile racist comments this week made towards Zaha and McGoldrick on social media.

“Listening to their reaction of disgust at it, and rightly so … because it’s horrendous and nobody should be subjected to that. People need to be held responsible for their words and actions.

“What leaves a sour taste though … I’ve received more abuse than any other player during my nine years in England … This isn’t a cry for sympathy, but one to ask the question [of] what is the difference?

“I’ve seen some of my fellow Irish teammates post a black square in support of anti-racism as well as posts condemning the discrimination … have I ever seen any of them post a public condemnation of the discrimination I get … that would be a no.

“Does one kind of discrimination hold a higher bearing over another act of discrimination?”

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