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19th Sep 2023

James McClean explains why other footballers won’t take poppy stance

Lee Costello

James McClean

“It can be quite taxing.”

James McClean explains why other footballers have not followed his lead, and refused to wear the poppy on their jerseys as part of Remembrance month.

McClean famously refused to wear a jersey that had the poppy embroiled onto the kit, as he did not want to show support for the British army, after the events of Bloody Sunday in 1972 where innocent civilians were murdered in his hometown Derry.

The poppy is widely believed to show support for those who died in World War I and World War II, which many Irishmen and catholics died in also.

However, because the poppy is deemed to show support for all British soldiers, including those who were involved with The Troubles in the north of Ireland, McClean and other Irish people don’t wear it.

This caused, and continues to cause, a yearly debate on whether the now Wrexham winger is right in maintaining this stance, and when speaking to Sky Sports news, he says that the attention it draws is why other players don’t follow suit.

“I speak to a lot of people and I’ve had players say that they don’t believe in wearing the poppy and they wouldn’t wear it, but they just don’t want to the hassle.

“So in a way, you know, I was kind of hoping by me doing it that would open a door for them to kind of do that themselves when they’re doing something that they don’t want to do.

“But probably they’re afraid of the backlash and that’s fine. You know what you don’t want because it’s horrific abuse and it can be quite taxing.”

The Republic of Ireland international continued: “So I understand why they don’t want that. But I’m always of the belief that if you don’t believe in something, then, you know, take a stand.”

“The perception and reality are two completely different things. The people that judge me don’t know me. Never spent time with me. You have two sides. You have someone with one set of values and someone with other values. I’m just asking for respect.