Cyrus Christie is an incredibly interesting character. In a sport that has very few players that are willing to break the mould in terms of their public comments, he is certainly a dying breed.
Christie has been outspoken in the past around the issue of racism, of which he has been a target of in the past. The most well-known example came after Ireland's World Cup play-off loss to Denmark, but his sister was also a target of abuse at one his games this season.
In an enthralling interview in The Times today, the Fulham player discussed the problem in greater depth. He believes that the authorities in the sport need to do much more to stop what has become a scourge, especially with the rise of social media and the current political climate in Britain.
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.
If the guy said it in front of me, and I punch him, I’d be in trouble. I’d love to know how many would come to my face and say it. I’d actually respect them a bit more, because they’ve showed they got some b*llocks.
I’d never respect a coward. It’s just a bunch of cowards now, online, knowing they can get away with it. I don’t believe anyone is born racist. It’s how they are brought up.
If kids tweet me racial abuse on Twitter, I say, ‘all right, it’s a kid’. I’ve replied to a few, then they’ve apologised.
Christie had a tough upbringing, which no doubt contributed to his strong character today.
While he speaks out often on racism, it is only when the biggest stars in the game open up that the issue becomes part of public consciousness.
Look at the amount of abuse Raheem Sterling has taken. Look at the way he was always portrayed in a different light to Harry Kane.
It’s taken a big name like Raheem Sterling, massive Premier League star, with such a big platform, to say something for something to happen. But there are people in the Championship, League One, League Two and Conference who’ve had racist abuse more than Raheem but nothing is said.
Other people are scared to speak up because they know it could hamper their career. I know a couple of up-and-coming athletes who run for GB, who say they can’t speak up on racism because it will affect their livelihood.