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Friday 20 July 2018

'Online abuse is water off a duck's back to me' says Cyrus

Not fazed: Cyrus Christie in Ireland training this week
Not fazed: Cyrus Christie in Ireland training this week

Taking blows on the pitch, losing matches, being dropped, scoring own goals.

All part of the game, where footballers are fair game.

But for Cyrus Christie, a far more troubling element of professional football in 2018 is the continued existence of racial abuse of footballers.

It's no longer a comment made from the stands, or a chant from a section of the crowd, but things that are said online which hurt. hurt deeply.

It was revealed last year, after the World Cup loss to Denmark, that Christie had been the subject of racial abuse, in the form of twitter posts, from 'supporters'. James McClean made the matter public, claiming that Christie had been "in tears" in the dressing room after seeing the comments, though Christie now says that's not the case.

"I think it came out that I was crying about it which obviously wasn't true. I've had worse in my times, I've had ten times worse," he says.

But the Fulham defender has admitted that the post-Denmark abuse was not new as he had been targeted previously and he fears that not enough is being done to combat the problem.

"It happened in the four previous games as well, the Georgia and Serbia games, it happened over the course of a couple of months," he says.

"It's one of those, you don't speak out because nothing does happen. Something does need to be done about it because a lot of the young lads coming up they might not have experienced certain situations that maybe I've been in and won't know how to deal with it."

Christie had an early taste of the racial edge in the game at his first club.

"Coming through at Coventry City, it was mainly black lads. The coaches were fine and really good with all of us. We never experienced any of it there apart from one game when we played away," he says.

"A massive fight kicked off because someone had been called the 'N' word and that was from one of the other lad's parents. Other than that I did not experience it from any of the coaches at Coventry."

But it's digital, not verbal abuse, which worries him now.

"You don't really hear it on the terraces. You get the odd person but it's more social media, that's where they get brave," he says.

Crowd

"They wouldn't say it to your face. When they're hiding amongst the crowd, that's when they get brave.

"I've had a lot worse growing up from where I've come from and many more dangerous situations in my time. It was nothing to me.

"I was upset about the manner of the defeat against Denmark, losing the way we did after starting so well and end up losing like that.

"Obviously people are going to be hurt and disappointed. We were hurting in the dressing room just as much as the fans but for them to resort to that is a low blow. It's nothing, I'll move on, whether or not something gets done who knows.

"The police where on but whether something will get done or not I don't know. A lot of the time when stuff like this happens, nothing really gets done. A lot of these people are hiding behind different profiles. I've had a lot worse growing up, when I was in school, so for me it was water off a duck's back. I've moved on, I was more disappointed with the result than anything. If that's what they want to resort to, they can, it's sticks and stones at the end of the day. I'm not going to be too hurt by it."

Seamus Coleman has returned from injury and will tonight win his first cap in 12 months, so Coleman's deputy, Christie, moves down the ladder though he's still an important part of the Irish team.

"The manager knows what I am capable of and I know what I am capable of. The experience will hold me in good stead. I can grow as a player now and get better with each game," he says.

At club level, things are going well for Christie's team, not so well for him personally as he's managed just two appearances, both as sub, for Fulham since that mid-season switch from Middlesbrough as Christie says he knows he will have to bide his time.

"I've found it good. I have to be patient, though, I've come into a winning team," Christie says.

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