THE FA is investigating an Instagram post by Stoke City's Irish winger James McClean in which he quoted IRA martyr Bobby Sands and labelled fans abusing him for his refusal to wear a Remembrance Day poppy "uneducated cavemen".
Derry native McClean, 29, was targeted by sections of both supporters for not wearing a poppy during Stoke's 0-0 draw with visitors Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The match at Bet365 Stadium saw fans rush towards the tunnel to shout obscenities at the Ireland international - an incident which the FA will also investigate, according to BBC News.
McClean, who has refused to wear the poppy since he moved to England with Sunderland in 2011, took to Instagram after the game to respond to the abuse - which has become a yearly occurrence.
"They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken," McClean wrote, quoting Bobby Sands - the Provisional IRA man and MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone who infamously died on hunger strike in 1981 while imprisoned in Northern Ireland.
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“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.” Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst.. to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank yous.. to the section of uneducated cavemen in left hand corner of the boothen end stand that want to song their anti irish song each game and call me a fenian this and that.. i am a PROUD FENIAN no [email protected]#t will ever change that, so sing away 👌🏻🇮🇪
He continued: "Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst… to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you.
"To the section of uneducated cavemen in the left-hand corner of the Boothen End stand that want to sing their anti-Irish song each game and call me a Fenian this and that... I am a PROUD FENIAN no [email protected]#t will ever change that, so sing away."
McClean was born in Derry, where in 1972 British soldiers shot dead 14 civilian protesters during the 'Bloody Sunday' massacre in the Bogside area of the city.
In a statement released before Saturday's fixture, the Irishman explained his stance: "I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy," he said on Tuesday.
"I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy."
Stoke City said it would launch its own internal probe over reports of sectarian and/or racist chanting during Saturday's match.
A report by the club's head of safety has further flagged up objects being thrown from the stands at the end of the fixture.
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