James McClean wore a black armband for Wigan’s Championship clash with Huddersfield, but decided to distance himself from his teammates during the commemorative minute of silence for the Queen in an apparent gesture of defiance.
There has been speculation as to whether the Republic of Ireland international would wear the black armband, as he previously refused to participate in gestures honoring elements of the British Empire, such as wearing a poppy.
However, the 33-year-old stood apart from his teammates as they joined forces during the minute of silence. He later shared images on his Instagram account of an Irish boxer who called him a “legend” for his stance on secession.
McClean has previously refused to wear a poppy and appeared to impersonate a member of the IRA in 2020 – ‘teaching’ his two young children during the lockdown.
The Irish star was born in Derry and grew up on the Creggan estate where six of the people killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972 came from. He describes himself as a ‘proud Fenian’.
Wigan Athletic’s James McClean stands alone for Queen during minute of silence
He decided to distance himself from his teammates during the commemorative minute of silence
McClean shared a post calling him a ‘legend’ for separating himself from the silence
In footage after Tuesday night’s game, where McClean received a huge welcome from Wigan fans after a 2-1 away win, the winger appears to no longer be wearing the armband.
The UK government said there was no obligation to cancel or postpone events and sports matches, or close nightlife venues during the period of national mourning following the Queen’s death.
Instead, they said the decision was left to the discretion of individual organizations and hinted that they should “hold a period of silence and/or play the national anthem at the start of events or sports competitions” if they decide to proceed. .
That’s why Wigan and Huddersfield players wore black armbands during their Championship clash and took part in a minute of silence before Tuesday night’s match.
McClean was photographed without a bracelet on Tuesday evening after the game
The use of black bracelets and the minute of silence was out of respect for the Queen
McClean shared an Instagram post Monday afternoon to discuss the ongoing speculation.
He said: ‘Unless you are a nationalist born and raised in Derry or elsewhere in the north of Ireland, don’t take or speak on our behalf unless you can tell. Miguel Delaney.’
On Wednesday morning, he posted another message from Irish professional boxer Declan Geraghty calling him a ‘legend’ for distanced himself from the gesture to the Queen.
McClean has previously refused to wear poppy-embroidered shirts.
Sold by the British Legion to raise money for those currently serving in the armed forces and their families, the poppy is used as a symbol to commemorate those who died in that conflict and others afterward.
But McClean refused to wear them on his shirt because they remember not only the First and Second World Wars, but other conflicts that Britain was involved in.
Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday that the Queen passed away peacefully
The UK government said there was no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting events, but hinted that athletes must wear black armbands and observe a minute of silence
He argues that someone who grew up in Derry, a city in Northern Ireland that had serious conflicts over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland in the late 20th century, cannot wear it.
However, if the poppy only commemorated those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars, he would say he would be happy to wear it with pride.
He previously took to social media to say, “I know a lot of people will disagree with my decision or even try to understand why I don’t wear poppy.
“I accept that, but I would like to ask people to respect the choice I made, just as I respect people who choose to wear a poppy.”
He also wrote a letter to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan saying: ‘I have full respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars – many I know were Irish born. I am told that your own grandfather Paddy Whelan, of Tipperary, was one of those.
McClean previously refused to wear a poppy-embroidered shirt while playing for Stoke
‘I mourn their deaths like any other decent person, and if the poppy were only a symbol of the lost souls of the First and Second World Wars, I would wear one; I want to make that 100 percent clear. You must understand this.
‘But the poppy has been used since 1945 to commemorate victims of other conflicts and that’s where the problem starts for me.
‘For people from the north of Ireland like me, and especially for those in Derry, where the Bloody Sunday massacre took place in 1972, the poppy has come to mean something very different.
‘Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like me or the Bogside, Brandywell or most places in Derry, everyone is still living in the shadows of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history – even if, like me, you were born almost 20 years after the event. It is just part of who we are, rooted in us from birth.
McClean posted his picture of himself wearing a black balaclava for his kids in 2020
The rest of Stoke’s team wore poppies to commemorate those who have fallen into conflict
Whelan, if I were to wear a poppy it would be as much a gesture of contempt for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday in particular – as I have been accused in the past of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.
‘It would be seen as an act of disrespect for those people; to my people.
“I am not a belligerent, or anti-British, or a terrorist or any of the accusations made against me in the past. I am a peaceful man, I believe that everyone should live side by side regardless of their religious or political beliefs I respect and ask people to respect mine. Since last year I am a father and I want my daughter to grow up in a peaceful world, like any parent.
“I’m very proud of where I come from and I just can’t do something that I think is wrong. In life, if you’re a man, you have to stand up for what you believe in.’