James McClean in fresh row over anthem snub
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James McClean in fresh row over anthem snub

IRELAND international James McClean has found himself at the centre of fresh controversy, after turning his back on the British national anthem during a pre-season match in the US.

The Derry winger – who joined West Bromwich Albion on a three-year deal last month – sparked a Twitter backlash from fans when he bowed his head whilst God Save the Queen played.

The 26-year-old broke ranks with his West Bromwich Albion team-mates who were lining up to face South Carolina-based United Soccer League club Charleston Battery.

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McClean previously refused to wear a poppy on his shirt while playing for Sunderland against Everton in November 2012 and took the same stance when playing for Wigan against Bolton two years later.

He said it would have been disrespectful to the "innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles."   At the time, McClean received death threats and faced criticism from fans.

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Northern Irish Democratic Ulster Unionist MP Gregory Campbell denounced his actions, saying: "He should reconsider who his paymasters are or move elsewhere so there isn't a problem."

McClean responded to the backlash on Twitter after the game, stating that he would make no comment on the matter, and in a separate tweet that he was happy with his performance for his new club.

Last year McClean wrote to Wigan owner Dave Whelan outlining his stance on wearing a poppy.

"For people from the north of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different," an extract read.

"Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.

"It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people."

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