Republic of Ireland Under-21s boss Jim Crawford has hit out at the “uneducated” trolls who sent “unacceptable” online abuse to members of the country’s Under-15s squad.
The Football Association of Ireland has condemned the attacks on multiple platforms, which came after the under-15s boys’ team’s back-to-back 6-0 victories over Latvia earlier this week, as “vile and horrific” and is working with police and social media companies to identify and deal with those responsible.
Crawford, who was preparing his team for Sunday’s friendly against Iceland in Cork when the news broke, could not contain his anger.
He said: “I just want to get it out there that there’s certainly no place for racism in sport, in society.
“It comes from a minority, it comes from uneducated people and it comes from social media platforms where people can disguise their names, their identity. The unfortunate thing is that they have a platform.
“To hear that this morning, it just makes you angry. I just think it’s time that we all just work together on this and stamp it out because it’s unacceptable.”
The incident comes at a time when Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad, which will Face France in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday evening, mirrors the country’s diversity, with striker Chiedozie Ogbene, the first African-born player to represent the nation at senior level, Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah all of Nigerian heritage.
Crawford added: “These same people will be cheering goals if Chieo scores, Adam Idah scores, do you know what I mean?
“I just don’t know. Well, I do know. They’re ignorant, they’re uneducated, but they have to hide behind these fake accounts.
“It goes for racism, bullying and I do think social media companies have got to do something about this. They’ve got to do it because certain people think it’s a laugh and a joke, but it’s not, it’s a lot deeper than that.”
An emotional Crawford continued: “I’ve worked in the FAI now a long time and I know the work that development officers do on the ground, getting into schools, putting on Show Racism the Red Card programmes, and I’ve been involved in that myself.
“It’s something that I’m very strong about and every school I’ve been to, I’ve got the buy-in. But it’s just the minority, you know? It’s just a minority.
“I’ve run so many programmes with black kids loving football, and then I hear this s**t that goes on, you know?”