Friday 26 April 2019

'It's dreadful, shameful behaviour' - Ray Houghton on racial abuse of Cyrus Christie

Cyrus Christie of Ireland following Denmark defeat
Cyrus Christie of Ireland following Denmark defeat Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton has said that the online abuse of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie has been 'dreadful' and 'shameful'.

Speaking at the PFAI awards last weekend, Ireland winger James McClean revealed that Christie was left in tears by a message that said he should go and play for Jamaica after months of racial abuse directed towards him on social media.

Paul McGrath wrote on his Twitter account on Monday that he was disgusted by the abuse while his former teammate Houghton said that playing for Ireland was never about the colour of your skin.

"It's dreadful," Houghton told RTÉ Radio 1 on Tuesday morning. "Shameful, the behaviour of people on social media.

"Cyrus is an extremely good footballer. One of the great things about playing for Ireland is that it was never about the colour of your skin, it was always about pride in the shirt and giving 100pc.

"It was about your attitude and commitment and certainly Cyrus has shown that in all the matches he has played for the country."

Houghton added that he hopes that authorities bring those responsible to justice and that those tasked with running social media websites have a responsibility to be more diligent with regards to how they monitor and treat racial abuse online.

"You do get keyboard wizards who come out and write things about certain individuals and think they can get away with it but I hope the authorities are on to them and they get what they deserve," added Houghton.

"With social media, we've opened up a can of worms. Anyone can go on there and write what they want.

"The people who are running these websites have got to be more diligent about what's going on and make sure the authorities are given the ability to catch them and punish them for what they're doing."

In a statement released on social media, Christie said that it was 'deeply saddening' that racism is still prevalent in football, and urged people in the sport to stand up against bigots.

"Firstly 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.

"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.

"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 sport."

The FAI subsequently referred the matter to the Gardai.

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