Football federations are being urged to do more to combat anti-Irish racism following allegations of a growing disparity in the handling of abuse in professional soccer.
Stoke and Ireland star James McClean has questioned why some professionals have been treated differently to others in regard to online discrimination and abuse.
He said no one has ever been held accountable for the torrent of anti-Irish abuse he’s been subjected to, in contrast to Premier League stars subjected to racism based on skin colour.
Ireland and Sheffield United player David McGoldrick, who was a victim of online racist attacks over the weekend, won the public support of the Football Association of Ireland, which condemned the “appalling” abuse.
While fully supporting his team-mate, Mr McClean said he was angry at a lack of action and support he’s been shown over nine years of discrimination in comparison, with that for the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The Derry man said he has been sent bullets in the post and his children have been subjected to almost 400 abusive messages, including some wishing his kids contracted coronavirus and died. Others claimed it would be ‘a geg’ if his wife and kids died in a house fire.
The 31-year-old hit out at the football authorities, the media and his Ireland teammates for not speaking out, and said he’s been left with a ‘sour taste’.
He wrote: “This is not a cry for sympathy but one to ask the question what is the difference?”
“Have I ever had any abuse condemned by the media? (Sky Sports, TalkSport, newspapers) No! In fact quite the opposite, the slightest thing that I do that might cause offence to any one is highlighted by them.”
He added: “Does one kind of discrimination hold a higher bearing over another act of discrimination?:
Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson, said more needs to be done to oppose anti-Irish racism in 2020.
“I offer my support to James, Erin and their young family. Racism in any form must be challenged wherever it arises. There is no place for racism in soccer, sport or society,” she said.
“I would appeal to those with influence within the sporting world to support James and his family. No person, in any walk of life, should have to suffer racial and sectarian abuse or intimidation.
“It has been the case that James has been the subject of a witch-hunt and there has been a very vile campaign of hate against him across many platforms on social media. It’s totally wrong and shouldn’t be happening.
“There is a duty on us all to tackle racism and discrimination of any form in our communities and workplaces by challenging negative comments and behaviour.”