It has come far too late, but it has been encouraging in recent times to see sources outside of Ireland highlight the abuse that James McClean suffers on a weekly basis.
The Derry man has been the subject of vile abuse both on and off the pitch for over a decade now, all of which has stemmed from his decision not to wear the remembrance poppy on his shirt at his various clubs since first joining Sunderland back in 2011.
HIs reasons for doing so have been well publicised.
McClean said he does not feel comfortable sporting a symbol that shows support for the British army when that particular organisation committed various atrocities in his home town. He has never criticised others for wearing it and simply asks for his decision to be respected.
Unfortunately, those pleas have largely been ignored by football fans in England.
James McClean's plight has been widely covered in Ireland, but it had largely been ignored by international media outlets despite his pleas for the authorities to tackle the issue. That began to change when his story was covered by CNN at the end of last year, with Sky Sports now also highlighting it.
James McClean interview draws predictable response online
In an honest and frank interview with Sky Sports, James McClean has once again highlighted the abuse both he and his family has received due to his stance on the poppy.
He explained his stance, before going on to say that he just wants others to respect his wishes as he has done their's.
I explained my reason for not doing so. I haven't made a a song and dance about it. I just bow my head, I do a silent protest.
I don't jeer, make noise, try and make a big spectacle about it so the whole 'I brought it on myself' is just based off that that one stupid judgement call (the balaclava picture on his social media).
People don't want to be educated. People have their views no matter what. Hate on James McClean and it's popular...
Maybe I was a bit naive in thinking you know, with me being the one that took the stand first, it'll pave way for young Irish lads coming through and it doesn't seem to be the case. I speak to a lot of people and I've had players say that they don't believe in wearing the poppy and they wouldn't wear it, but they just don't want to the hassle...
I respect your beliefs, even if I don't honour them in the way you do, I respect them. All I'm asking for in return is for the same courtesy. Judge me if you spend time with me. Don't judge me when you don't know me, because then it just makes you ignorant.
You can read the interview in full here.
Unfortunately, this interview has been met by a predictable reaction online. In response to the tweet shared by Sky Sports journalist Melissa Reddy, McClean would receive yet further abuse, with others attempting to justify the hatred that he and his family receives.
For 11 years, James McClean has been flooded with death threats and ill wishes too atrocious to type out. His family have lived in fear, they've been traumatised. This is their story of an exhausting battle and a tale of perception versus reality:https://t.co/cDonNCtcgE
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) September 18, 2023
We are not going to share those tweets on this platform, but you can probably get the sense of what they are saying.
One user who called themselves a 'Rangers twitter enthusiast' asked why McClean had not been similarly critical of the IRA, while others would label him as a 'terrorist sympathiser'.
That is just a snapshot of the responses that the article received on social media, pointing towards the battle that the player continues to fight ever since first refusing to wear the poppy back in 2012. Of course, they all miss the point that the 34-year old is attempting to get across.
It must be pointed out that the article also received plenty of positive feedback, although the ratio of hateful comments that came in response to the tweet points to what the Ireland international is forced to deal with every day.
As he points out, the authorities have recently started to take the abuse directed at hime more seriously, with two clubs punished for it in recent months. Unfortunately, that is not going to make up for over a decade of bigotry.