BY YANN TEAR
Cyrus Christie has again been prominent in speaking out against racism – demanding tough action from Uefa following the obscene chanting and Nazi salutes aimed at England players in Bulgaria on Monday.
It was so bad that Croatian referee Ivan Bebek twice halted proceedings during the European Championship qualifier.
The Fulham defender has had his own personal battles to deal with and was once targeted for racist abuse on social media after a World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark when playing for the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
And he recently reported that his sister had been subjected to racist jibes at a Fulham away game.
There has been widespread condemnation of the behaviour of home fans in Sofia and Christie, who is becoming a respected, outspoken voice in the debate, was quick to make his views known on Monday night.
“Let’s see what Uefa do about this,” he tweeted. “Shocking scenes no player or person should have to tolerate that type of racial abuse or abuse in general.
How many times does it have to happen before big punishments are sanctioned.
Seems to just get worse.”
He said recently about racism in this country: “People in higher authority have to do more. Do the FA do enough? Do Kick it Out do enough? It’s just a matter of time before a player takes it in to their own hands.
In August, after the opening game of the season at Barnsley, Christie posted: “To the Fulham fan that decided to hit my sister at the game today and his wife who justified his action with racist remarks I hope your (sic) proud of yourself and feel like a big man. You’ll get what’s coming to you. “regardless how you felt about the result your actions are shameful.”
After the racist insults which came his way after playing for Ireland, when he scored an own goal in a 5-1 defeat to the Danes, he said: “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.”
In a recent interview with The Times, Christie said: I’d never walk away [from football] but racism does make you fall out of love with the game.”
Christie could do with more playing this season, having yet to start a game in the league for the Whites.
His last action was for his country in a September friendly win against Bulgaria.
But his chances of breaking back into the side could be difficult for now, with Scott Parker looking to retain the nucleus of a team which is now unbeaten in six games.
The Fulham boss was disappointed that the international break came when it did, as his team are starting to build momentum.
But at least Aleksandar Mitrovic looks like returning to the fold in good nick, having bagged two more goals for Serbia in a Monday night win in Lithuania.
Last week, he headed the winner in a friendly against Paraguay. He has eight goals for the Whites this season and six for his country and is now the sixth highest scorer in his nation’s history.
Stefan Johansen captained Norway as they held Spain to a 1-1 draw in Oslo, playing 63 minutes.
Tim Ream turned out for the USA as they trounced Cuba 7-0 in a Nations League tie, and Neeskens Kebano played 73 minutes of Conga’s 1-1 draw with Algeria.
Fulham travel to Stoke City on Saturday before taking on Luton Town at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.
It will be the first league match against the Potters for five years, the last trip ending in a 4-1 defeat.
There has been no win at Stoke since Chris ‘Bairdinho’ Baird’s famous double in December 2010.
Matches against Luton have been even rarer of late. The last league matches between the sides took place in the 1998/99 season, when the Whites won 4-0 at Kenilworth Road – Geoff Horsfield bagging a couple, along with Paul Trollope and Barry Hayles. But the Hatters won 3-1 on their last league visit.