REPUBLIC of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie has spoken out about receiving racist abuse on Twitter following his country’s failure to qualify for World Cup 2018.
The 25-year-old scored an own goal as Ireland were beaten 5-1 by Denmark in last week’s play-off decider, after which he suffered sickening racial abuse on social media.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Middlesbrough full-back condemned “a number of racist comments” directed against him and said those responsible “do not belong in football or any other sport”.
— Cyrus Christie (@cyruschristie) November 20, 2017
The FAI has referred the posts to Irish police after midfielder James McClean drew attention to the abuse while speaking at the PFA Ireland awards on Saturday.
The Show Racism the Red Card charity and PFA Ireland issued a joint statement on Monday night, condemning the abuse and citing a post which they say “urged him to go to Jamaica and boasted about wanting to lynch him”.
Christie said he was “extremely proud” to represent the Republic of Ireland and that the vile taunts were not representative of Irish fans.
“I’d like to say I am extremely proud to represent my country, the Republic of Ireland, and I give everything I can each time I put on the green shirt,” he said in his statement.
“I genuinely believe our fans are some of the best in the world.
“However, there have been a number of racist comments which have been brought to my attention during the World Cup qualifying campaign over the last couple of months and, most recently, last week".
Disgusted to hear the racial comments towards Cyrus Christie on social media, no player deserves that. I’m sure Cyrus will rise above it and answer his critics on the field. #oneofourown #cowards pic.twitter.com/Zu1qthNnE7
— Paul McGrath (@Paulmcgrath5) November 20, 2017
He added: “These comments are not representative of our fans or our sport.
“We were all deeply upset to not reach the World Cup finals and are hurting just as much as everyone else.
“It is deeply saddening that racism is still part of the game we all enjoy and love.
“I strongly believe we need to stand up against these individuals who do not belong in football or any other sport.”
Christie, who joined Boro from Derby in the summer, has since been flooded with messages of support on social media.
"Disgusted to hear the racial comments towards Cyrus Christie on social media," said former Ireland and Man Utd defender Paul McGrath.
"No player deserves that. I’m sure Cyrus will rise above it and answer his critics on the field."
While one fan wrote: "Chin up mate, racism has no place in a civilised society.
“Stay strong Cyrus, hold your head high. You have the support of the whole Middlesbrough FC supporters.”