Sunday 27 May 2018

'It's something we have to highlight' - Martin O'Neill lends support to Cyrus Christie after racist abuse ordeal

Manager of Republic of Ireland Martin O'Neill, right, with Cyrus Christie. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Manager of Republic of Ireland Martin O'Neill, right, with Cyrus Christie. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill has backed Cyrus Christie in his attempts to get social media authorities to take a strong stand on the issue of racism.

The Ireland defender has been on the receiving end of abusive comments, an issue that was flagged in the aftermath of the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark in November.

He used Twitter last week to highlight further instances of racist comments aimed at him and ask why the culprits can get away with it.

O'Neill was present at a Show Racism the Red Card event in Tallaght yesterday and dealt with the problems experienced by Christie.

The Derryman said that getting off social media would be a counterproductive measure for Christie.

"I think it's too easy to say, 'Come off Twitter'. That's almost like giving in," said O'Neill. "He shouldn't have to and I don't think he should do. I'm not on Twitter but I have heard of the abuse and made aware of it. It's remarkable that people in this day and age can attack somebody in this way and also get away with it.

At the Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony at Tallaght Stadium were (l-r) Colin Bell, manager of the Republic of Ireland women’s team, Martin O’Neill, manager of the Ireland men’s team and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD watching Kevin Nguyen from St Aidan’s School in Dublin display his soccer skills. Photo: Barry Cronin
At the Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony at Tallaght Stadium were (l-r) Colin Bell, manager of the Republic of Ireland women’s team, Martin O’Neill, manager of the Ireland men’s team and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD watching Kevin Nguyen from St Aidan’s School in Dublin display his soccer skills. Photo: Barry Cronin

"Some years ago I played for a very decent football team (Nottingham Forest) that produced the first black man to play for England in Viv Anderson. He was a wonderful footballer and adored by all the football fans in Nottingham but who took terrible abuse away from home and all because of the colour of his skin.

"While those situations have improved immensely over the last 25 to 30 years there are still problems. There is much greater integration now so there is no place for racism, absolutely no place for it but it exists.

"Funnily enough with these particularly new gadgets coming in like Twitter, it seems to have gotten back to the surface again.

"Cyrus has, seemingly on the surface, adopted an attitude like Viv Anderson by saying, 'Well, it's happened, I don't like what they are saying but such is life'. But it should not happen.

"We all have to play a part. It's a feeling that nothing has been done and that's disappointing. That's something we have to highlight."

Meanwhile, O'Neill believes the current Rangers side is the worst that he's ever seen play for the club.

And he has tipped Steven Gerrard to make a positive impact if he is handed the manager's job, while joking that it would be hard for the rookie boss not to improve the current group.

His old club Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-0 in a completely one-sided Glasgow derby on Sunday with the build-up dominated by the news that Gerrard is in line to take over from Graeme Murty and try his hand at management for the first time.

"He hasn't got a clue what he's letting himself in for," quipped O'Neill. "He has been born and bred in Liverpool, so he must have an idea.

"I hope he does (get the job), it would be nice to see him. I think he would be terrific for Rangers just at this stage because Rangers unquestionably... it's the worst side that has ever, ever played for Rangers at this minute. They are so, so bad. They are worse than bad, they are dreadful.

"I think the only way is up for him, if that's the case," added O'Neill, adopting a more serious tone.

Ireland's next game is actually a Celtic Park return for O'Neill and a May 20 visit to coincide with Scott Brown's testimonial. Brendan Rodgers' Celtic will attempt to complete another treble 24 hours earlier.

Irish Independent

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