Football

Gareth McAuley Claims James McClean's Own Actions Have Made Him Target For Abuse

Gareth McAuley Claims James McClean's Own Actions Have Made Him Target For Abuse

James McClean was back in the news this week after his comments about the abuse has long been subjected to in England.

The subject of racism in the game, and in society in general, has been brought to centre stage since football's restart with 'Black Lives Matter' messages being included in both Premier League and Championship games.

Last week, there was also two sickening examples of the racism footballers are still subjected to. Wilfried Zaha and David McGoldrick both received disgusting racist messages on their social media accounts.

Many in the world of football rightly came out in support of the pair, and while McClean acknowledged this was the right thing to do, he wondered why similar support had not been offered to him in the past.

After all, the Ireland winger has been targeted on countless occasions for his religious and political beliefs.

However, some believe the situations are not really comparable. One of those is McClean's former West Brom teammate Gareth McAuley, who said that much of the abuse the player is down to the fact that 'he really doesn't help himself' at times.

Writing in his column for the Belfast Telegraph, McAuley admitted that he had seen firsthand the level of abuse McClean suffers. However, he claims that unlike Wilfried Zaha, the Derry native attracts abuse due to his own actions.

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My old pal and West Brom team-mate James McClean had a point when he stated on social media last week that he is probably the most abused footballer in England.

I've played alongside James and heard the derogatory comments launched in his direction from the stands, never mind read the abuse dished out to him on the internet...

While Zaha is being targeted because of the colour of his skin, something he has absolutely no control over, James is not being singled out because he is Irish. Thousands of Irish players over the years have been welcomed into the professional game in England.

It's James' actions, decisions and outbursts that have turned football fans, even from the clubs he plays for, against him.

Delving further into the issue, McAuley said that McClean's political beliefs make him an easy targets for abuse, as does his actions on the pitch and on social.

He also shared his belief that Stoke manager Michael O'Neill will look to offload his as soon as possible, and that the player could struggle to find another club.

It was not helped when he proudly dressed up on Instagram in a balaclava to home school his kids. Joke or not, it was seriously insensitive.

Then there was the time on a West Brom tour to the United States when James made sure he had his back turned to the Union Jack and subsequently the Stars and Stripes.

It was noted by proud Baggies fans and not forgotten. Yet another sign of disrespect.

James often points out that no one in the game stands up for him or affords him support, but he was offered help by the FA during his time at West Brom and refused to engage with football's governing body because he said they hadn't helped him out quickly enough in the past.

At times, he really doesn't help himself.

James could easily have voiced his support for the Black Lives Matter sentiment and left it at that. Let others rally behind him. But I would also ask, what was he again doing on social media when he was banned by the club following his balaclava antics at the start of lockdown?

Yet another sign of disrespect and another McClean headache Stoke manager Michael O'Neill could have done without during this turbulent time.

Knowing Michael he will not want any further hassle and during the clear-out at Stoke, when the season finally finishes this week, I would say James will be one of the names at the top of the list for moving on.

James is only 31, he would still have a few good years left in his career, but I fear with all the baggage and propaganda that comes with him, he may be untouchable.

You can read the full column here.

McClean and former Northern Ireland international McAuley were teammates for three years at West Brom, meaning you would imagine McAuley would know better than to make a statement such as this.

While McClean does has a divisive personality, he has done nothing to deserve the type of abuse that he has received during his time in England. Death threats and bullets in the post are never acceptable.

Nobody brings that on themselves.

SEE ALSO: Gary Neville Suggests Premier League Winger As United' Sancho Alternative

Gary Connaughton

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