STOKE CITY manager Gary Rowett has said Ireland international James McClean has received abusive mail over his decision not to wear a poppy.
Meanwhile the midfielder’s wife has revealed a fan threatened to tattoo a poppy on to her face.
It comes after McClean was again subjected to abuse from the terraces last weekend, including from his own fans, for not wearing a poppy.
McClean grew up in Derry, where 13 civilians were killed by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday, with a 14th dying several months later.
Speaking at a press conference today, Rowett said he couldn’t condone McClean’s criticism of some of the home support, but said he understood the player’s reaction when he saw some of the abusive mail he had received.
“We spoke to James about it and I think it was out of frustration, probably ill-judged, but certainly criticising a minority of our fans is not the way to go and we spoke to him about that,” said Rowett.
“We can’t condone that but I think when you understand the background to his beliefs and you see that his family have had death threats, you see that his wife and kids have had abuse constantly, you see that he’s been sent stuff in the post, which I’ve seen recently from fans and you can understand, in a way, why he reacts. He’s only human.
“We can’t condone certain parts of those actions but we can understand some parts of it just because the abuse is pretty bad.”
McClean’s wife Erin meanwhile has posted an example on Instagram of some of the abuse directed at the family.
The image showed messages received by the player telling him to ‘get the f*** out of England’ and threatening to post his address online.
It added: “Big mistake posting picture of your s*** wife I’ll tattoo a poppy on her ugly face you ginger ira rat.”
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Yesterday the Professional Footballers’ Association offered its support to McClean following the ‘unacceptable abuse’ he has received for not wearing a poppy.
A PFA statement said: “There is no justification for the abuse he and his family have received for his beliefs and he should be supported in the same way as any other player who receives abuse based on his or her race.”