REUTERS: Stoke City have fined midfielder James McClean two weeks' wages for posting an "inappropriate" picture on social media, the Championship club said on Friday.
The Instagram post showed the Irishman wearing a balaclava, which has strong connotations with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The image showed him with his children and featured a message that said he was teaching them a "history lesson".
"I never wanted to cause any offence but I now realise that I did so and for that I apologise unreservedly," McClean, 30, said in a statement. "I have spoken to the club and will be deleting my Instagram account."
The Irishman has been previously targeted by opposing fans and on social media for refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy.
McClean comes from Derry in Northern Ireland, the location of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, when British soldiers killed unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers.
McClean was recovering from a knee injury when the soccer season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Stoke in 17th place in the English second tier - three points above the relegation zone.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)