Adam Idah pictured after the France game. James Crombie/INPHO
Speaking out

'No matter who you are, you always have a right to play for this country'

Ireland’s Adam Idah on his own experiences with racist abuse in the wake of recent controversies.

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL Adam Idah has joined the FAI among many others in condemning the recent racist abuse aimed at Ireland underage players.

Last Friday, the association released a statement criticising the “vile and horrific” messages sent online in relation to members of the Irish U15s team after their back-to-back wins over Latvia.

Speaking following the senior team’s defeat to France in which he appeared as a second-half substitute, the Norwich striker said he was unaware of the controversy after recently choosing to remove himself from social media.

“It’s not a nice thing to see or hear, it’s an awful thing, I have experienced it myself, it’s not nice for those lads, U15s is such a young age, it’s outrageous.

“You can see in the [Irish] first team, there is so much diversity in the team at the moment, anyone and everybody has a chance to play for this country no matter where you are from or who you are, you always have that chance.

“All I can say to those young lads is to keep their heads up, don’t listen to what anyone says, focus on themselves and one day they could be in this team as well.”

The 22-year-old Corkonian added that the decision to remove himself from social media was partially due to the racist abuse he experienced online.

“It’s one of the reasons, yeah, you don’t want to be seeing lots of hate all the time. It’s not nice, especially when I was injured, it’s probably the thing I was on the most, and seeing all these things is not nice so I had to come off [social media] and it was the best thing I did. I don’t see anything now, I don’t get too high or too down, I have that balance and I can recommend that to most people, stay away from it, it’s one of the best things I did.

“I have been off Twitter for two or three months. I just one day decided not to be on it, to not see all the comments, if I do have a good game, you get stuck in that [mindset] of trying to see what everyone is saying about you, you might see that one comment that’s bad, that will put you down for the rest of the day.

“So the best thing for me was to come off it, pretty much all of my family have come off it as well, just to not see these comments.”

The Irish international also expressed the commonly held view that social media companies must do more to stop the spread of online hate.

“I have said it before, we spoke about the racial abuse, I don’t think anyone has a right to be saying things like that on things like Twitter. There should be an identity check when you do set up these social media things and that’s the main thing, every company should know who is on their app, and these things shouldn’t be said.”

Recounting his personal experience, Idah added: “I had it in the UK, I played a game against Crystal Palace and when I went on my Instagram there were a few comments, it’s not a nice feeling and the club helped me with that, to be fair.

“I stand strong [against] racism, it’s not a nice thing at all and I try to do the best I can to try and stop it but people will always be like that, for us we need to educate people a bit better, that’s the main thing. Hopefully one day we can crack down on it.”

A common theme of racist abuse on these shores involves questioning the Irishness of athletes from African or other diverse backgrounds.

“Of course, the lads know themselves they are Irish. No matter what colour skin you are, what religion you are. If you feel like you have the Irish in you, of course. We are all here to welcome whoever, if you want to play for this badge, then you are more than welcome, they want to put in as much work as everyone else and fight for their place in the team, I stand by them.”

Moreover, in recent years, the Irish squad has increasingly been reflective of a changing, more diverse society, and Idah believes Stephen Kenny’s team can be a force for good in this regard.

“Of course, already we have inspired quite a lot of people, there’s a lot of diversity in the squad, and a lot of young people do look up to us as role models. I have had a few people say to me already, that there is diversity in the squad that we probably haven’t seen as much of before, it’s great to see. No matter who you are, you always have a right to play for this country.” 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel