Latest: 'Deeply saddening' that racism is still part of football, says Cyrus Christie

Update 10.15pm: Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie has tonight responded to racist messages targeting him on social media.

Team-mate James McClean drew attention to the situation while speaking at the PFA Ireland awards, which took place on Saturday, and the FAI has since reported the issue to authorities.

Posting on his own Twitter account, the Middlesbrough stated: “Firstly, I’d like to say I am extremely proud to represent my country, the Republic of Ireland, and give everything I can each time I put on the green shirt.

“I genuinely believe our fans are 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 any other sport.”

Earlier:

James McClean has been praised for “shining a light” on racism by an international anti-racism charity after revealing the hurt caused to Cyrus Christie by comments on social media, writes Stephen Barry.

Christie was left in tears in the dressing room after receiving racist comments online following Ireland’s 5-1 play-off defeat to Denmark.

A joint statement from Show Racism the Red Card and the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland said: “The tweet (Christie saw) urged him to go to Jamaica and boasted about wanting to lynch him”.

Those comments have been referred by the FAI to the Gardaí for investigation.

Garrett Mullan, Director of Show Racism the Red Card, said: “There is no place for racism in sport or on social media.

“We welcome the fact that the FAI and Gardaí are taking action but social media outlets also have a role to play in responding to racism.

“As important as reporting such vile incidents is the support that someone receives from those around and, in this case, it is clear that Cyrus Christie’s team mates have been affected by this incident.

“We welcome the fact that James McClean has shone a light on to some of the nasty elements out there.

“His support for his fellow team mate will help the team and Cyrus, in particular, to emerge stronger from this incident.”

McClean’s comments came at Saturday night’s PFAI awards.

“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.”

Stephen McGuinness, General Secretary of the PFAI, said: “We fully support all efforts to stamp out racism from the game and that includes comments targeting players on social media.

“The nature of this incident is really shocking and no player should be subjected to that and we hope that the perpetrator is called to account.

“This incident should serve as a message to all involved in the game from grassroots upwards that racism needs a response from authorities and team mates.

“It cannot be ignored.”

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