Gardaí to investigate racist tweet directed at Cyrus Christie

Deeply vulgar and abusive online comment upset defender greatly, says James McClean

Republic of Ireland’s Cyrus Christie “was in tears” after reading abuse. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Republic of Ireland’s Cyrus Christie “was in tears” after reading abuse. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The FAI has confirmed that it referred racist abuse directed at Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie on social media after Tuesday’s World Cup play-off defeat to An Garda Síochána.

Christie’s teammate, James McClean, revealed the existence of the tweet at Saturday evening’s PFAI awards in Dublin, citing it as an example of what the team had been subjected to in the immediate aftermath of the game. He said that Christie, already deeply upset over the outcome of the game, had shown the message to other players in the dressing room at the Aviva stadium.

“We spoke afterwards and it really got to a few players,” said McClean in an interview on stage after he had been presented with the award for Overseas Player of the Year.

“Everybody watched the game and it was poor, we know that. But some of the comments afterwards, which my Instagram post was about, went beyond football. One player in particular was told to go and play for Jamaica. Make of that what you want.

“It really upset him. My comments weren’t based on football, they were more personal. That’s for a player who has been a good servant to his country and it cut deep. That player was in tears, by the way. You’ve just missed out on the World Cup and then to have that . . . ”

Uncle’s advice

The tweet, from an account with a made-up name, was deeply vulgar and abusive in tone. It is not the first time the 25-year-old has been the target of racism, and the full-back has spoken impressively on a number of occasions of how it was a part of day-to-day life when he was growing up in Coventry and how his uncle, the boxer Errol Christie, helped him to deal with it.

“My uncle helped me stay on the straight and narrow ... not to let racism embitter me and twist me,” he said recently. “The use of the N-word was very familiar to me when I was a kid – even when I’d play on a Sunday morning. As you’d beat an opponent, even when I would only be 12 or 13, you’d hear parents screaming, ‘Stop that f***ing n****r’.”

McClean has been subjected to considerable online abuse himself, not least over his stand on the poppy issue.

The West Brom winger, meanwhile, says he believes Martin O’Neill should stay on as Ireland manager despite the team’s defeat by Denmark in the play-offs.

“The manager has been great,” he said. “We all took our fair share of criticism, some more than others, it was it was the other night, there’s no hiding from that, [but] the manager did a great job in getting us to the last 16 of European Championships and a World Cup play-off from a tough group. He deserves a lot of credit for his job.”

Doyle to coach

Kevin Doyle has confirmed he is working on getting his coaching badges after being forced to retire from the game on medical advice. He initially hoped to play on for another while but accepted that he had no option but to hang up his boots when told that he might face serious long-term consequences if he continued playing.

“When I spoke to the neurologist, I was very focused on getting another couple of years out of it – ‘I’ll be fine’ – but I got a second opinion and he said the same thing. He said the risk was if you continue the symptoms would be long-term. Pretty soon after that I made my mind up.”

Sean Maguire and Katie McCabe won the main players’ awards at Saturday’s event, while Trevor Clarke was named as young player of the year. Kieran Marty Waters won the First Division award and Cork City’s John Caulfield was voted best manager. Former women’s international captain Emma Byrne was given the association’s Merit Award.