"How could you do your job?"; Ireland midfielder passionately backed by Celtic boss

By Euan Davidson

February 16, 2021

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has offered his support to Stoke midfielder James McClean.

The Irish winger, who has played in England since 2011, has been the target of sectarian abuse since refusing to wear a poppy nine years ago.

McLean’s wife, Erin, admitted she watches his matches in fear, due to the nature of the threats made against her husband [Sky Sports]. Amongst other threats, one supporter claimed on social media that they were preparing to bring a weapon to his matches. Others, anonymously, claimed they were going to burn the McClean house down.

The FAI and Stoke City have offered statements in response to the abuse McClean receives daily. Speaking at a press conference today, Neil Lennon had his say on social media and the abuse footballers receive.

Neil Lennon said:

“I seen it on Sky News today, the pressure that football is starting to put on social media platforms.

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“These social media platforms don’t display any accountability or look after people on the end of this constant abuse. Whether it be racial, sectarian, personal, social. It’s a real poison in modern day society. It’s more prevalent in football because it’s so much more public and out there.

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“I’m fed up of talking about it now because nothing gets done. It’s about time these people were named, shamed and dealt with by the police or the courts. Because it’s just totally unacceptable.

“It’s almost as if it’s alright to do it now. It’s almost as if your our own personal thoughts can be put out on a public platform, maybe you’ve had a few drinks and you don’t mean it and you’ve no regard for the recipient. I’m seeing it a lot in English football now. [This has] got to come to a head.

“It’s been too long. It’s been going on for far too long.”

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has had to endure consistent death threats in Glasgow / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has been there, yet nothing changes

Over his career, Neil Lennon has received various threats, as well as being assaulted. In 2012, two men were sentenced for sending home-made bombs to the Celtic manager [The Guardian]. In 2009, Lennon was assaulted by two men in their forties in Ashton Lane, in Glasgow’s West End [Scotsman].

The gaffer continued:

“How could you do your job if people were threatening you and your family? It would be so difficult for you, and then this kid has to go out and play professional football. Everyone will go “well he’s well paid for it”. He’s not well paid to take abuse from all and sundry about his background, his religion or his family.

“You put yourself in his shoes, people threatening to burn down his house, threaten his family constantly, on a daily basis. You’d be looking over your shoulder every five minutes.

“I’ve been through it myself and it’s a lonely place. I hope he gets the right support. It’s alright people putting out statements saying they’re going to support him.

“Do it, show it. Associations, clubs, show it. It’s not just James, it’s all these kids who are getting racially abused as well. It’s absolutely scandalous now.”