James McClean has been disciplined by Stoke after he called a section of the club’s fans ‘uneducated cavemen’.
McClean’s outburst on Instagram came after he was verbally abused by some home supporters during the Championship clash with Middlesbrough last weekend over his refusal to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt.
A statement on the Stoke website read: ‘Stoke City‘s investigation into James McClean’s social media post following last Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough has concluded and the player has been dealt with under the terms of the club’s disciplinary procedure.’
James McClean has been disciplined after he called a section of Stoke’s fans ‘cavemen’
McClean was abused by Middlesbrough and Stoke fans on Saturday for not wearing a poppy
McClean reacted to fans at the time then attacked abusers in furious social media posts
James McClean has repeatedly found himself at the centre of controversy of his decision not to wear a poppy.
He has repeatedly been booed by his own fans for his choice, with the first incident occurring in 2012 when his Sunderland side faced Everton.
He donated his shirt, signed, to auction in aid of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin.
In 2014, at Wigan, McClean wrote a letter to then-owner Dave Whelan explaining his reasons for abstaining and how he would wear a poppy if it only signified loss of life in World War I and World War II.
‘For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different,’ McClean said.
In a statement of his own to Stoke supporters, McClean, an Irish Catholic who has faced persistent abuse for his poppy stance, gave a qualified apology.
He said: ‘At last Saturday’s game a section of our supporters threatened and abused me because of my religious beliefs and upbringing.
‘I am certain that no fair-minded person would regard that as acceptable but I recognise that as a professional footballer, and therefore a role model, I’m expected to tolerate it.
‘Whilst I do not believe it is appropriate for me to apologise to those fans who abused me, I do want to whole-heartedly apologise to the vast majority of Stoke City fans who, although they may have different views to myself, are decent and respectful.
‘I sincerely apologise for any offence that I caused them with my comments and posting on Instagram.’
Speaking about McClean’s comments at a press conference on Thursday, Stoke boss Gary Rowett told reporters: ‘I spoke to James about it. I think his reaction was out of frustration but criticising the minority of our fans isn’t the way to go and we can’t condone that.
‘But, when you understand the background to his beliefs and you see that his family have been sent death threats, his wife and kids have had abuse constantly and you see he’s been sent things in the post, you can understand why he reacts; he’s only human.’
McClean also issued a statement on his Instagram calling the fans ‘uneducated cavemen’
On the Sunday after the 0-0 draw with Boro, McClean directed his anger at Stoke supporters who had booed him.
He wrote: ‘Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst. To the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you.
‘To the section of uneducated cavemen in left hand corner of the Boothen End stand that want to sing their anti-Irish song each game and call me a Fenian this and that… I am a PROUD FENIAN no c*** will ever change that, so sing away.’
McClean is from Derry in Northern Ireland and grew up on the Creggan estate where six of the people who were killed on Bloody Sunday had lived. Bloody Sunday saw 28 unarmed civilians shot by British soldiers in a peaceful protest march.
McClean also slammed an FA investigatio into his reaction, which caused Stoke to intervene