Sunderland stress ‘zero tolerance’ on discrimination after James McClean abuse

The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland winger hit out in a social media post.
Sunderland stress ‘zero tolerance’ on discrimination after James McClean abuse

By Damian Spellman, PA

Sunderland have reiterated their zero tolerance policy on discrimination after former winger James McClean was targeted by a section of the Stadium of Light crowd.

The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland international highlighted social media footage of chants apparently aimed at him during his club Wigan’s 2-1 Sky Bet Championship defeat at Sunderland on Saturday.

A statement on the club’s official website on Monday said: “Sunderland AFC has a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of discrimination.

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean
Republic of Ireland winger James McClean has been the victim of abuse (Niall Carson/PA)

“The club is committed to providing an inclusive, family-friendly environment at the Stadium of Light and strongly condemns any supporter found to be engaging in any form of discriminatory behaviour.

“Whilst the majority of fans behave impeccably when supporting SAFC, there have been multiple incidents during the 2022-23 season that are unacceptable and have resulted in ejection, stadium bans and criminal investigations.

“Everyone attending, working or taking part in a football match at the Stadium of Light has the right to feel safe, valued and included and the club encourages all supporters to continue to play their part.”

Derry-born McClean, who has repeatedly found himself the target for anti-Irish Catholic abuse as a result of his decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt during his time in English football, hit out in a post on his official Instagram account.

 

He said: “Where to start really, for my son who is 7 years old and watches every Wigan game either being at stadium or on Latics TV, to be asking his mother, ‘Why are they booing and singing that song at Daddy?’ and to have to tip-toe around answering him is something which should not be happening.

“This post is not one of sympathy (trust me, it’s not wanted) but one of anger.

“Considering every single year we have an FA representative come into each club to discuss the same old cr** they spew to us about discrimination, every single year I challenge them on the abuse, every single year they do nothing.”

He added: “Everyone who attended the game would have heard this loud and clear including the referee, match officials and other officials.

James McClean
James McClean (right) is a former Sunderland player (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I should not have to report every single incident when clearly they can all hear what I hear and they should be doing their job by taking action.”

The Football Association, which has previously met with McClean and the EFL and police to discuss the discrimination he has faced, is understood to be aware of the chants and is investigating.

An FA spokesperson said: “We strongly condemn all forms of discriminatory and offensive chanting.

“Any participants or fans who believe that they have been the subject of, or witness to, discrimination are encouraged to report it through the correct channels: The FA, the relevant club or via our partners at Kick It Out.

“The FA looks into any alleged discriminatory language or behaviour that is reported to us, and we work closely with the clubs and relevant authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

In 2020, Barnsley were fined £20,000 and ordered to implement an action plan over discriminatory chants targeting McClean, while in 2015, Rotherham’s Kirk Broadfoot was handed a 10-game ban for abuse aimed at the Irishman.

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