Stoke’s James McClean opens up on abuse after Instagram post and hits out at Matt Hancock over player pay cuts

Winger was fined two weeks’ wages by his club for the “inappropriate” social media post

Alex Pattle
Monday 06 April 2020 11:29 BST
James McClean has apologised for posting an offensive image on Instagram
James McClean has apologised for posting an offensive image on Instagram

Stoke City winger James McClean has spoken out about the abuse he received following an Instagram post he uploaded last month.

McClean posed for a photograph while wearing a balaclava and pretending to give his kids a “history lesson”, and was subsequently fined two weeks’ wages by Stoke.

The Championship club issued the punishment after deeming the Instagram post ”inappropriate”.

“If I sat here and said I don’t regret things I’d be lying, but I can take a lot of abuse and can’t have fun back?” McClean asked Sky Sports.

“It was supposed to be light-hearted joke, but I can understand why it didn’t go down well. People think I did a history lesson like that, but I didn’t actually do it.”

McClean opened up about the nature of the abuse he received in the aftermath of the post.

“Things like ‘I hope your kids get coronavirus and die,’ or ‘It would be a laugh if your house burned down with your kids inside.’

“There was someone online, who looked over 40, abusing my kids. Of course [it’s upsetting] – footballers are a free hit. It’s like it’s viewed as we earn this amount of money so we should just take it.

“I’ve got a good family around me and group of friends. They are the opinions that I value. Not everyone is going to like me, especially if you go with the grain.

“It gets annoying when things like that [Instagram post] get all this coverage. When I breathe or look the wrong way there is an article. People get their perception from things like this.”

McClean has since donated Personal Protective Equipment to frontline workers in his home city of Derry and urged authorities to do more to support those risking their lives amid the battle against coronavirus.

The Republic of Ireland international purchased approximately 400 pairs of gloves, 100 face masks, protective visors, 10 hand sanitisers and 100 gowns.

“It’s not going to solve all the problems, but hopefully it can tide them over,” he said. ”It begs the question: If I’m able to go online, why can’t the authorities supply enough equipment?”

McClean also hit out at Health Secretary Matt Hancock for his comments on football players not taking pay cuts soon enough.

“It’s ridiculous,” said McClean. “You’ve got Matt Hancock saying we should take a pay cut. No one seems to like footballers. We’ve got livelihoods, too, and people might take this the wrong way, but we do work hard for our money.

“Think about what players pay towards government tax. Football is a short career and we’ve got to look after our families once it’s over. I’ve seen players do great deeds from their own pocket.”​

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