James McClean leaves Twitter for a second time after Sectarian row
Sunderland midfielder James McClean has again quit the social networking site Twitter after receiving hateful Sectarian based abuse. The Daily Mail claims that he was advised to close his Twitter account by Sunderland boss Martin O’Neil following a brief meeting on Monday.
The midfielder rejoined the site two weeks ago, despite O’Neil warning him against using the micro-blogging platform. Upon finding out that McClean had rejoined the site, he said in his weekly press conference; “As long as he doesn’t talk about the club and use derogatory comments, then fine, and as long as he doesn’t swear. I will have to take a look at it and see. Has he learned? We will see. I am allowing it to settle down.”
Just weeks later, McLean received the abuse after he tweeted on Saturday; “On flight for the Marras game. Only one thing for it – headphones in, Wolfe Tones on! What’s everyone’s favourite song? Broad Black Brimmer edges mine.” The song tells the story of a boy whose father died before he was born, fighting in the IRA. The title refers to the wide brimmed hat worn by many within the IRA.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, of the DUP, criticized McLean by saying; “As someone playing football at a professional level for Sunderland, McClean should be an example to young people.” He was even clearer about what McClean should do, adding that O’Neil should speak to the player and advised the Sunderland boss to tell him; “Three simple words should suffice: Stick to football. If he doesn’t heed this then a final three words should be given: pack your bags.”
Last year he received death threats after refusing to wear a poppy on his Sunderland shirt, prompting him to delete his Twitter account, not before he had hit back at those abusing him, with his final tweet saying; “Love the dogs abuse am gettin of shock N.I fans, just worry about watchinur own country at the euros... oh wait #mybad #awkward haha.(sic)”
He was also critical of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni after being an unused sub in the narrow 2-1 win over minnows Kazakhstan in September 2012, tweeting after the game; “Delighted as a fan we got the win.. Personal level #fuming #fuckingjoke #embarassing.”
McClean clearly hasn’t learned from the last time he quit Twitter. He must have realised that by tweeting that particular song would see him receiving vile sectarian abuse. While it is easy to blame McLean for such thoughtless use of Twitter, his management and club should also look at how they could have ensured that this type of incident didn’t happen again. Perhaps Sunderland should make their social media policy much clearer, if indeed they have one, or adapt it so that players using the site in a negative way receive a harsher punishment or even education on the use of digital media and the risks associated with such actions. Education seems key with the influence and potential in digital media something for sports teams to embrace and maximize the only way to ensure such examples become the thing of the past is through guidance, collaboration and an encouragement of positive use of platforms such as Twitter. As for McLean his latest, and surely last, foray into social media should serve as a stark warning to the midfielder who has further removed himself from, not only punters, but his club and manager where he could have instead used this opportunity to dramatically improve the perception that all held of him.