James McClean has complained at a lack of support over the abuse and death threats he has received following the condemnation of the racist messages that were sent to Premier League forwards Wilfried Zaha and David McGoldrick.
The Stoke City and Republic of Ireland winger condemned what he called the “horrendous” messages that were posted on Instagram to Crystal Palace winger Zaha and Sheffield United forward McGoldrick, but said that he had received “more abuse than [any] other player” during his nine years in England.
McClean, who was born in Northern Ireland and spent nine seasons playing football in England, has regularly refused to wear a poppy during remembrance season, saying that for him it would be “a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially”.
The abuse of McGoldrick and Zaha prompted renewed calls on Monday for Ofcom to oversee a crack down of offensive social media postings. A 12-year-old boy was arrested following the Zaha message, with West Midlands Police confirming yesterday the individual "has been released under investigation while our enquiries continue."
McClean argued that no-one had ever been accountable for the abuse he has received. “What is the difference?” he asked.
Zaha said that he had received racist messages before and that it has become a daily occurrence for professional footballers. McGoldrick, who had scored the first two Premier League goals of his career in Saturday’s 3-0 win against Chelsea, highlighted his abuse on Monday morning.
The Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick It Out have called for concerted government action to tackle the wider issue of how people can anonymously post such abuse. The PFA, which is the trade union for professional footballers in England and Wales, now wants Ofcom to oversee the enforcement of legislation. Kick It Out, which is football's equality and inclusion organisation, said that social media had been allowed to become like the “wild west”.