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Investigation launched after James McClean subjected to 'racist chanting'

Stoke winger James McClean (Nick Potts/PA)
Stoke winger James McClean (Nick Potts/PA)

By Aidan O'Hara

Huddersfield Town are to launch an investigation after Irish international James McClean was targeted by their supporters during Stoke City’s victory today.

The second half was briefly halted by a tannoy announcement at the John Smith’s Stadium saying “racist chanting is affecting the game and will not be tolerated”, with McClean immediately applauding the announcement.

Referee James Linington spoke to both managers before the announcement and, afterwards, Stoke boss Michael O’Neill insists those responsible need to be punished while backing McClean to continue his recent run of good form.

“Things are said when James goes and takes a corner, home or away,” said O’Neill. “It’s clear that the things that were said were of a sectarian nature and there’s no need for that in any stadium.

“James is a player who’s particularly targeted for this and has been consistently.

“It will not affect James. James is mentally tough, there’s no doubt about that, and he’s got a thick skin.

“People have to be held accountable for their behaviour when they come to a stadium.

“It’s not something we want to be consistently talking about – sectarianism or racism or whatever.

“We want to be talking about the game because there was seven goals here,” added O’Neill after the 5-2 victory which lifted Stoke out of the relegation zone.

The club also revealed that McClean had been subjected to similar abuse from opposing supporters during Stoke’s home game on St Stephen’s Day against Sheffield Wednesday, although no announcement was made on that occasion.

“When it happened on Boxing Day we were the home team and the abuse has obviously come from the away supporters at that point in time so it’s maybe a slightly different scenario, but it’s not something we want to be consistently talking about whether it’s sectarianism or racism,” said O’Neill.

“James is a player who is targeted with this because of his background, and obviously I know his background extremely well, but I think he’s 100 per cent right to do what he did and report it to the referee.”

The club’s head of media and communications Fraser Nicholson added: “Just to provide some context for that, James McClean is being encouraged to report abuse that he receives that’s of a sectarian nature to the match official. He did it on Boxing Day when he was subjected to it by Sheffield Wednesday fans and obviously felt the need to do it again.”

Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley also condemned the incident.

“There’s no place for discrimination of any type, is there? We’re in the 21st century in 2020,” he said.

“There’s no place for it whatsoever. I know the club will think exactly the same and will investigate the situation and make sure the people involved in it are duly punished, and so they should be because any type of discrimination to me is unacceptable.”

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