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Irish youngster Afolabi praised for lifting the lid on 'disgusting' racist abuse

The Republic of Ireland U21 striker was targeted on social media after scoring for Dundee on Saturday.

Jonathan Afolabi pictured during the Republic of Ireland U21 side's fixture against Italy in October.
Jonathan Afolabi pictured during the Republic of Ireland U21 side's fixture against Italy in October.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

DUNDEE MANAGER JAMES McPake has vented his anger after striker Jonathan Afolabi was the victim of racism following their Scottish Cup win on Saturday.

In the aftermath of a 3-2 victory over non-league club Bonnyrigg Rose, Afolabi disclosed a series of vile messages which had been directed at him online.

The Dubliner, who turns 21 this week, scored a 94th-minute equaliser at Dens Park to send the game to extra-time, before Dundee eventually sealed their place in the third round.

Afolabi joined Dundee in September on a season-long loan from Celtic. Both clubs were quick to condemn the abuse suffered by the player, with McPake praising the youngster for highlighting the issue today in the Dundee Evening Telegraph.

He said: “Nowadays it’s so easy to hide online and send these messages. These people are cowards. I don’t see it much now because I stay away from social media. There is so much negativity out there.

“You see a lot of that in sport and the abuse people get for missing a chance or scoring against somebody is disgusting. I’d bet that person wouldn’t say that to Jonathan Afolabi’s face.

“I think it was important he came out and spoke about it. I don’t think that level of abuse can be left alone. I’ve spoken to him every day and he is okay. He’s trained this week and we’ve made it clear we are here for him. It’s hard to even put into words.”

Afolabi, who’s a current Republic of Ireland U21 international, began his professional career at Southampton, before being signed by Celtic on a three-year deal in the summer of 2019. 

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His goal on Saturday came after he scored from the penalty spot a week earlier to help Dundee defeat Scottish Championship leaders Hearts. 

Dundee have reported the abusive messages to the police, with McPake adding: “It is disgusting. It’s heartbreaking for the boy because that’s what he is – he’s a young kid trying to build his career.

“He’s doing very well and to see people trying to affect others in that way is disgusting. There are people out there with no morals whatsoever.

“We are right behind him as a football club. It’s horrendous. Anything he needs from us, he’ll get. He’s a strong character and he’s dealing with it very well.” 

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Paul Dollery

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