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Investigation into sectarian abuse aimed at Derry's James McClean

Fans warned "offensive behaviour affecting the game"

Investigation into sectarian abuse aimed at Derry's James McClean

James McClean was the victim of sectarian abuse by a section of Huddersfield fans

An investigation is underway into sectarian abuse aimed at Derry's James McClean during his side's Championship clash with Huddersfield Town yesterday.

Stoke City left the John Smith Stadium with all three points after the 5-2 win, but matters off the pitch dominated the post-match discussion.

Referee James Linington stopped play in the 64th minute, when the score was 2-2, as Stoke were preparing to take a corner, to go and tell both managers that McClean had reported that he had received abuse from the crowd.

The Republic of Ireland international applauded when the announcement was made over the loudspeakers, when fans were warned "offensive behaviour is affecting the game and will not be tolerated."

The Professional Footballers' Association has offered its support to the Creggan man, describing the abuse as “unacceptable.”

A statement said: “The Professional Footballers' Association has offered its support and assistance to James McClean following the unacceptable abuse he has received previously and more recently following his decision not to wear a poppy on his kit during the Stoke City v Middlesbrough match last weekend.

“The poppy symbol is an important recognition of the sacrifice so many made in the World Wars in the UK, however, it should always remain an individual’s choice whether or not to wear it.

“Protecting the right to freedom of speech was such an important part of the reason for the World Wars and every individual should have the right to freedom of speech within the law.

“We live in a multicultural society as reflected in those who play professional football in the UK and the PFA is proud to have such a diverse membership. James’ decision is based solely on his religious beliefs and his nationality, and we support his right to express himself as he feels appropriate.

“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.

“We call upon the other stakeholders in football to recognise this and support an individual’s right to express his personal and religious beliefs without fear of threats and abuse.”

Huddersfield Town announced shortly after the game that it would investigate the sectarian abuse

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