FAI contacts gardaí over 'vile and horrific' racist abuse of Ireland youth players

FAI contacts gardaí over 'vile and horrific' racist abuse of Ireland youth players

RACIST abuse aimed at Ireland youth players online has been branded 'vile and horrific' by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The organisation revealed it had contacted gardaí about the abuse, which targeted the Ireland Men's Under-15s side.

Meanwhile, in a seperate incident, League of Ireland side Kerry FC claimed their players had been subjected to racist abuse during their First Division game against Athlone Town on Friday.

'Ignorant and unacceptable'

The social media abuse targeting Ireland's youth players began on Tuesday, much of it accompanying a picture of the U15 side that had beaten Latvia 6-0 in the first of a double header at Home Farm.

In a statement on Friday, when the FAI should have been celebrating a second 6-0 victory for the U15s the night before, it sadly found itself having to condemn abuse of the youngsters.

"The Football Association of Ireland is aware of vile and horrific racist abuse aimed at players from our Men's Under 15 international squad on multiple social media outlets," read a statement.

"The FAI takes the protection of all Irish players seriously.

"We abhor such ignorant and unacceptable online abuse of any player and we are working with the gardaí, the social media companies, the families of the players and their clubs to ensure that this matter is dealt with in the appropriate manner.

"We have spoken with the players and their families tonight and offered them our full support."

FAI Chief Executive Jonathan Hill said he hoped to identify those behind the abuse, despite some of the social media accounts that perpetrated it appearing to have since been deactivated.

"There is no place for racism in football," said Mr Hill.

"To see such young players targeted in this manner is particularly sickening and the FAI will do everything in our power to ensure the perpetrators are identified and held responsible for their disgraceful actions."

'Hate not tolerated'

The incidents at international level appeared to be mirrored at club level with Kerry FC reporting abuse of their players during their 1-0 home defeat to Athlone, just hours after the FAI statement.

"Kerry FC is shocked, disappointed and angry at racist abuse of our players on social media during our game against Athlone Town last night," read a statement on Saturday morning.

"Kerry FC is working with the FAI and the League of Ireland to Kick It Out of our game.

"Kerry FC condemns discrimination in football and will not tolerate any form of hate towards any of our players or staff.

"Mounthawk Park and Kerry FC is a community where all people are welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, and other diverse backgrounds."

Both Athlone Town and the League of Ireland have come out in support of Kerry following the match.

"Athlone Town AFC stand together with Kerry FC against racism and discrimination, and it's important that we all work towards a better, more equal society and remember that football is for everybody," read a statement.

Meanwhile, the League of Ireland said the First Division club 'has our full support in condemning this unacceptable behaviour towards their players'.