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Calling James McClean a 'hero' leaves some Bet365 customers fuming

By Leona O'Neill

An English betting firm has been urged to rethink its advertising strategy after branding controversial Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean a 'hero'.

Bet365 faced a barrage of criticism and threats from furious customers vowing to close their accounts after it tweeted praise for McClean. The 28-year-old Londonderry-born midfielder, who plays club football for West Bromwich Albion, scored the winner in Monday night's World Cup qualifier against Wales.

Afterwards Bet365 tweeted a photo and a caption reading 'not all heroes wear capes' to their 373,000 followers.

Angry customers inundated the betting firm's Twitter account with criticism.

One furious customer said: "This **** is no hero, the amount of disrespect he's given to actual heroes is unforgivable, my account will be getting deleted."

Another called McClean "a person who disrespects the UK".

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the company should "consider the consequences" of its online actions.

"I have said on a number of occasions when he has said something unrelated to the game that James McClean should stick to football," he said.

"Some people might say that James McClean's attitude to real heroes in the past has left a lot to be desired. But if he sticks to football I certainly won't be responding to controversial comments if he doesn't make them.

"In this case it's someone else creating the controversy.

"I think Bet365 should consider carefully their advertising strategy when they are engaging, because on occasion they can use an advertising programme that might cause some people not to use their company or for controversy to be created that they may not have intended to occur. They haven't considered the consequences before putting this out."

It is not the first time McClean has hit the headlines.

He has refused to wear the poppy symbol on his team shirt in a move that has caused uproar among fans in England. In 2014, while playing for Wigan, he was booed off the pitch and later wrote a letter to his then club chairman, Dave Whelan, explaining his stance.

Bet365 were contacted by the Belfast Telegraph but declined to comment on the matter.

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