Belfast Telegraph

Investigation after James McClean targeted with sectarian chants by Barnsley fans during O'Neill's Stoke debut

James McClean (Niall Carson/PA)
James McClean (Niall Carson/PA)

The Football Association (FA) has launched an investigation after Stoke City winger James McClean was targeted with sectarian chanting by Barnsley fans at the weekend.

The Daily Mail has reported that the chanting occurred during Stoke's visit to Oakwell on Saturday.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill made his debut as Stoke City manager at the game, which was won 4-2 by the Potters.

Londonderry footballer McClean was regularly booed during the game was also targeted with chants about the Pope and the IRA.

The game took place the day before Remembrance Sunday, where the UK remembers the contribution of the military during the world wars and other conflicts. A minute's silence was held before the game.

A number of players wore poppies on their shirts during the match. McClean has not worn a poppy during his many years in English football, citing the actions of the British Army in his native city on Bloody Sunday.

He has regularly been targeted with abuse by football fans for the decision and disclosed that he has received death threats in the past.

It has been reported that referee Jeremy Simpson included the abuse in his report of the game and the FA is investigating as a result.

Speaking last year Republic of Ireland international McClean defended his decision not to wear the poppy.

“I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy," he said in a statement released through Stoke City.

Flying start: Michael O’Neill enjoys debut Stoke victory at Barnsley
Flying start: Michael O’Neill enjoys debut Stoke victory at Barnsley

“I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”

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