Vile racial online comments directed at Cyrus Christie in the aftermath of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark on Tuesday have been referred to Garda Síochána, writes John Fallon.
Ireland winger James McClean raised the issue at Saturday night’s Player Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) awards ceremony, explaining his team-mate was brought to tears in the dressing-room after reading the abuse on his smartphone.
McClean had posted a message on his Instagram account on Wednesday hitting out at those “putting the boot in” but elaborated after receiving his overseas Player Of the Year award from the players’ union.
“Everybody watched the game and we all know it was poor but some of the comments afterwards went beyond football,” said the West Brom man.
“That’s what my Instagram post was about. One player was told to go and play for Jamaica. Make of that what you want.
“He was in tears. 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.”
Although the FAI refused to comment on the matter, it is understood the authorities have been informed and are pursuing the matter.
Meanwhile, McClean has called on Martin O’Neill to remain in charge for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers. The Derryman is said to be considering his position following the 5-1 hammering by Denmark. McClean insists the collapse was a one-off.
“People have short memories,” he asserted. “Those players got us to the European Championships and within one game of getting to the World Cup. It was gutting for us but it was more gutting when people put the boot in. Maybe it was nerves that cost us, maybe Denmark were just the better side and maybe it would have gone differently if I’d put my chance away when we were leading 1-0.
“We’ve been written off before and came back stronger. I just hope the manager stays on.”
McClean wasn’t the only one expressing strong opinions at the annual bash.
John Caulfield, picking up the Manager Of the Year gong for leading Cork City to a league and cup double, branded the paucity of promotion of the league “a disgrace”.
He called on the clubs to ensure they gain a commitment from the FAI that one live game is broadcast on a weekly basis during the season, to be scheduled on a Thursday or Sunday so not to impact on the traditional Friday night slot.
“Clubs should decide what games are shown live,” he insisted.
Retired Ireland’s women’s goalkeeper Emma Byrne, collecting the Special Merit award, hailed her the resilience of her team-mates for going public with their dispute against the FAI in April but bemoaned the fact the governing body still refuse to allow the PFAI represent them in negotiations.
Premier Division Player of the Year Sean Magurie, meantime, confirmed he will face 12 weeks on the sidelines after undergoing surgery last week on his hamstring injury.
Player of the Year: Sean Maguire (Cork City);Young Player of the Year: Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers)
Referee of the Year: Paul McLoughlin;
Irish Overseas Player of the Year: James McClean (West Bromwich Albion);
International Women’s Player of the Year: Katie McCabe;
First Division Player of the Year: Kieran Marty Waters (Cabinteely).
Special Merit: Emma Byrne.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.