Derry soccer player James McClean was last night given further backing over his decision not to wear a poppy during a game at the weekend.
McClean has been subjected to a tirade of online abuse since declining to wear a shirt embroidered with a Remembrance Day poppy in Sunderland’s game with Everton on Saturday.
Both his employers and the Premier League have since said the player was entitled to make such a decision.
A Sunderland AFC spokesman said that it was “James’ personal choice not to wear a shirt on this occasion” while a spokesman for the Premier League said: “It is a matter of choice whether people wore the poppy.”
McClean, who is currently with the Ireland squad was yesterday backed by his national manager, Giovanni Trapattoni who said the 23-year-old Derry winger was entitled to make his own call.
Also yesterday, Simon Walsh, editor of the Roker Report, an online blog dedicated to Sunderland which has around 5000 followers on Twitter also backed the Derry footballer.
He said online calls for McClean to be sacked by the club were over the top.
“I’m pretty sure that’s intimidation and bordering on bullying. McClean shouldn’t be hounded out for his decision.”
Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said McClean has been the victim of ‘poppy bullying’
“No person, in any walk of life, should be forced to wear any symbol. That includes the red poppy, symbol of the Royal British Legion. Neither should any disrespect be read into a person’s decision to wear such a symbol,” Mr McCartney says.
On a poll currently running on derryjournal.com, 70% of voters agreed the footballer had become a victim of poppy bullying. Visit derryjournal.com to cast your vote.