James McClean doesn’t have an agent. He doesn’t have a public relations representative either.
While I know the above is false, it’s the only explanation for his decision on the day before we remember those who have fought in wars, both in the past and today.
I’d love to feign outrage over McClean’s refusal to wear a Sunderland shirt adorned with a poppy, but I’m struggling. On one hand the idea of paying lip service to things and customs I don’t believe in makes me ill. However, I’d also like to think I’m not an inconsiderate jerk.
It’s not that simple. McClean — who hails from Ireland — asked to wear his normal shirt. His manager, Martin O’Neill, chose not to wear a poppy during the game but put one on for his post match presser. McClean’s Republican views have garnered vitriol before. He swapped allegiances from Northern Ireland to Ireland, even though he had played for the former during his youth. He was prone to twitter outbursts before ultimately shutting his account down.
The history and general tension behind this issue is not one I will pretend to comprehend. That would be paying lip service to you, readers who know bullshit when they see it. With that in mind perhaps we should look at McClean’s actions today through the same lens.
Before we lambaste the 23-year-old it would be wise to take a step back and acknowledge that we really don’t know everything. While I wear a poppy myself I cannot pretend to know what James McClean has dealt with in his life. He made a stand. So be it.