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An Ghaeltacht Footballer Details Racist Abuse He Has Suffered

An Ghaeltacht Footballer Details Racist Abuse He Has Suffered

Franz Sauerland has spoken about some of the racist abuse which he has suffered while playing Gaelic football.

Sauerland, who captained Dingle's Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne to the 2018 Corn Uí Mhuirí, plays for West Kerry side An Ghaeltacht.

"People ask me, 'What are you doing in this country? Why are you playing this sport? Go back to your own country'," he told Seán Mac an tSíthigh.

"The worst insult I ever heard was 'Go back to your cotton fields'. That upset me.

"I just feel it's completely wrong. It upsets me when I hear those things.

"But I have fantastic teammates who stand up for me and support me whenever it happens."

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Last month, Leo Gaxha - who signed a professional contract with Sheffield United in May - detailed some of the racist abuse which he recently suffered while training in his hometown of Tralee.

Sauerland initially made public the abuse to which he has been subjected in an Instagram post which he published at the weekend.

"I'm never one to talk out about things especially not the topic of racism but I felt as though it was fitting at this moment in time with everything going on in the world and also because I've seen many people on social media saying that Ireland isn't racist," he wrote.

"I have lived in this country all my life and have always felt that I have had to try harder than others to "fit in" or to prove myself in one way or another just because of the colour of my skin. Having good friends all the way up from primary school to current day helped a lot but I would be lying if I said that I haven't had to deal with racism along the way.

"The main example that springs to mind for me is when I'm at work and someone that doesn't know me comes into the shop and asks where I'm from and I say oh I'm from around here they go on to ask 'No, where are you actually from' I respond by telling them I was born in Tralee hospital they then ask where did you get the colour from. I don't have enough fingers on my hand to be able to count the amount of times this has happened to me and maybe it shouldn't annoy me but it really does because it's as if it wouldn't be possible for me to be Irish.

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"The most recent encounter was when someone asked me how bad the coronavirus was in my home country, I responded by saying Ireland is my home country and they stood there speechless and pissed off as if I was trying to be cheeky with them or something.

"But the worst racist comment that I have ever received was on the football pitch in a game where I wasn't playing due to injury and was doing water for my club's u16's team.

"I ran on to give water to one of my teammates who was marking a lad that had been saying and doing awful things to our players all game, after giving my teammate the water that player on the other team said 'go back to your cotton fields' and laughed to himself afterwards.

"I didn't act on the matter because I didn't know what to do but later that evening after the game I got a message from one of the umpires saying that he had heard what that lad said and that he had reported that player to the referee which I was extremely grateful for.

"I am fully aware that these are minor acts of racism and don't compare to half the stuff that have been going on in America and around the world. But I'm only trying to get the message across that Racism Exists in Ireland. We must continue this fight for equality everyday so that it becomes a reality...something that the black community have been after for far too long."

See Also: Croke Park Crowd Of 21,000 Possible Under 2m Social Distancing

PJ Browne
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