'I can take abuse but can't have fun back?' - James McClean defends controversial balaclava Instagram post
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'I can take abuse but can't have fun back?' - James McClean defends controversial balaclava Instagram post

IRELAND FOOTBALLER James McClean has defended his recent controversial Instagram post where he was pictured wearing a balaclava.

The Stoke City winger, who described the photograph as a "lighthearted joke", was fined two weeks' wages by his club and was asked to delete his Instagram account.

The image showed McClean in a balaclava with his two children, with the caption: "Today's school lesson - history".

It was interpreted as an ill-advised reference to the IRA, and the photo received a swarm of online criticism, and McClean's brother claimed death threats had been aimed at the winger's children.

In an interview with Sky Sports, the Derry-born Irishman expressed his regret over the post, but asked why he couldn't make a joke when others make jokes about him.

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"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?

James McClean's Instagram post

"It was supposed to be a lighthearted joke but I can understand why it didn't go down too well," McClean said.

"People think I did a history lesson like that but I didn't actually do it.

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

Following the initial post, McClean apologised in an official statement.

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"I never wanted to cause any offence but I now I realise I did so and for that, I apologise unreservedly," he said.

The Irishman has caused controversy in the past over his stance on refusing to wear a remembrance poppy, and has been subject to Sectarian abuse during football matches in England.