Republic of Ireland soccer player James McClean has deleted his Twitter account after receiving death threats on the social networking site.
The 23-year-old was capped seven times for Northern Ireland at U21 level before declaring for the Republic and was named in Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad for next month’s Euro 2012 finals on Monday after he rose to fame with Sunderland this season.
The Derry man took to Twitter to express his delight at his selection, telling his 50,000 followers: “Absolutely honoured and couldn’t be happier to have been called up to represent my country at the Euros. No better feeling.’’
However, his joy was not shared by all and the player was on the receiving end of sectarian abuse and threats against his life from other Twitter users.
One tweet, later deleted, read: “u deserve to be shot for that comment!! Your playing for Ireland and not the country you were born in (NI)’’.
The winger responded by referring to Northern Ireland’s failure to qualify, tweeting: “love the dogs abuse am gettin of shock N.I fans, just worry about watchin ur own country at the euros.... oh wait #mybad #awkward haha.”
But yesterday he deleted his account, a decision that met with a mixed response.
One user wrote: “Too many players judas these days, play for the country in which you were born! Mcclean you were born in N.I so play for them, J U D A S.’’
However, another user defended him, tweeting: “Disgraceful James McClean closed his Twitter due to morons and sectarian abuse.’’
The Football Association of Ireland welcomed his decision. “It’s unfortunate that he has come off Twitter but maybe it’s best in the short term for him,’’ an FAI spokesperson said last night.
Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “Any incidents of this nature are treated with the utmost seriousness and the club is looking into this matter carefully.’’
Earlier a PSNI spokesperson said a formal complaint had not been received at this stage from the player by police in the North or England. “We don’t discuss individual cases, however, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.’’
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved