Published Sunday, 11 November 2012
James McClean opted not to wear a shirt with a poppy on during Saturday's match. (© Getty)
Members of the team wore special shirts with the remembrance emblem on them for their clash against Everton on Saturday, but the 23-year-old opted to wear his usual kit.
McClean played against his Republic of Ireland teammate Seamus Coleman who sported a poppy during the match on the eve of Remembrance Sunday.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, who was born in the village of Kilrea, chose to wear a poppy on his suit after the match, but did not display one on his training kit during it.
McClean has been criticised on social media sites for not wearing a poppy but a club spokesman said it was the player's personal choice not to wear the shirt on Saturday.
A Sunderland statement said: "As a club, SAFC wholeheartedly supports the Remembrance commemorations. It was James' personal choice not to wear a shirt on this occasion."
The right of people not to feel intimidated into wearing a poppy must be recognised. That includes professional footballers. James McClean’s personal choice in this regard should be respected.
Raymond McCartney, Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle, said no disrespect should be read into McClean's decision.
"No person, in any walk of life, should be forced to wear any symbol," he said.
"It appears that James McClean is now the subject of a witch hunt on social media for his choice not to wear a poppy on his shirt when playing for Sunderland."
McClean has been a controversial tweeter, deleting his account in September following a tirade about being left on the bench by Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni against Kazakhstan.
He also received death threats on the social media site after he was called up to the Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 squad. The Derry man's decision to play for the Republic despite being capped seven times for Northern Ireland at Under-21s level, caused anger among NI fans.
The winger was urged to stay off Twitter by Sunderland chiefs but despite deleting controversial tweets, and at times his account, he remains on the social networking site.
© UTV News