In the opening league fixtures of 2020, yet another match was marred by discriminatory abuse aimed towards a player.
The Championship match between Huddersfield and Stoke City was halted and a stadium announcement was made warning against “offensive behaviour” due to sectarian chanting aimed at James McClean.
James has been subjected to this type of vile abuse throughout his career, and he will be fully supported in the same way as any other individual who receives abuse based on their race, religion or nationality.
The PFA have previously advised James to report sectarian chanting to match officials and we are satisfied that in this instance the protocol was enacted. However, this action in isolation is not sufficient.
We welcome that Huddersfield have committed to a full investigation to identify offenders; we hope that the perpetrators will face further consequences from both within and outside the game.
In addition, as with other forms of discrimination, it has become clear that this type of abuse is on the rise and is becoming a weekly occurrence for James.
We will be talking with PGMO and the EFL to ensure that match officials are vigilant to this type of chanting and hope to see future action taken proactively on James’ behalf.
There is no justification for this or any other type of abuse and the PFA stands fully beside every player who faces discrimination.
In December, we called for a government enquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football and will continue to pursue this issue.
Stakeholders within the game must work in partnership with the government, police and clubs to drive this agenda and set a zero-tolerance policy within stadiums.