Former FAI social media manager Darragh McGinley said racial abuse occurred on a number of occasions during his time in the organisation and the country need to take this issue more seriously to stop it.
McGinley worked across grassroots with the 52 development officers in the FAI, promoting all the international teams as well as educating teams with media training.
“With social media I worked an awful lot with the underage teams and educating them on it. Social media can be a very positive place, but as we can see, it can be a very negative place too.
“We would have players who are not fully aware of the negative comments they get. So, I’m here to support them and assist them on getting accounts taken down and people removed from social channels.
“When these guys come into the international setup at 15, they land on a pedestal that they wouldn’t have been on before. So, we educate them to be responsible as to what they’re doing.”
Following Cyrus Christie’s interview on OTB AM, McGinley said he had to deal with a number of underage international players receiving racial abuse, saying this is not a new thing.
“How do you talk to a 17-year-old when they’re getting comments that they’re not Irish? These are young Irish guys getting abuse and it’s not right. In my role, sadly my options are limited, but I can take it and report it directly.
“Many players at underage have never done social media training. So, education is a big thing and if we educate them on what to do and what not to do, that’s a big positive for a footballer.”
McGinley, who worked as social media manager from 2015-18 said he remembers Cyrus Christie being the subject of abuse even before the Denmark play-off in 2017.
“I listened to your interview with Cyrus. I wasn’t aware of the incident, but I wasn’t surprised. This has happened on numerous occasions.
“Cyrus mentioned the Denmark game, but I remember an incident two months before when Cyrus pulled me aside and showed me messages of a racist nature before a match.”
McGinley feels that social media should take the same approach as online betting where official ID must be given, therefore it is easier to identify anyone involved in online abuse or cyber-bullying.
“I feel it’s too easy to set up a social media account and a new email. If we want to take this seriously and stop these trolls in this country, we need to make it easier to trace them, where they set up an account with an ID.
“[Whether] They have the software to do that, it’s about scaling it and if they want to do it.”