The Football Association (FA) has persistently failed to support James McClean when he has been the recipient of sectarian anti-Irish racism. Every year, in the weeks prior to the British Remembrance Day, a deluge of bigoted, ignorant, aggressive and threatening abuse is hurled at McClean at football games and online. The FA has never sought to identify the culprits or to use its power to ban any of them from attending games.
At the end of last Saturday’s (November 3rd) Championship match several supporters ran to the edge of the stand and screamed angry sectarian comments at McClean as he left the pitch. Later, his restrained response was to call them “cavemen.” The FA sprung into action, not to take action against the screaming yobs but to send McClean a letter warning him about his conduct because of his use of the word “cavemen.”
Alongside the Kick It Out campaign, the FA has helped to deal effectively with racism, homophobia and sexism in football but the FA’s commitment to tackling discrimination and prejudices appears to exclude concern about anti-Irish sectarianism. Conversely, one slight comment from McClean received an authoritarian, pompous and wilfully ignorant letter from the FA to try to put him in his place.
McClean elucidated the hypocrisy of the FA in his statement published online: McClean on FA hypocrisy.
This failure by the FA to fight against a specific type of discrimination, coupled with an attempt to shut down McClean’s complaints, revealed a political blind spot at the FA. But, why would the FA forget all its anti-discriminatory intent when the discrimination is anti-Irish?
James McClean has integrity and is a strong character. The FA is mealy-mouthed and weak.