A former Kerry minor footballer from Ard na Caithne in the Kerry Gaeltacht has spoken of the racist abuse he's received when playing Gaelic football with his club An Ghaeltacht, with one opponent telling him to "go back to the cotton fields".
Franz Sauerland's mother is from Ghana, and his father is from Germany. He was born and raised in Kerry.
Speaking to the An Saol ó Dheas programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, the 19-year-old said that he had not experienced racism playing on his home turf, but had done so at away games, recalling the first such incident to presenter Helen Ní Shé.
"I've had a few experiences of it while playing for my club," he said. "One in particular stands out. I wasn't even playing, I was a water steward because I was injured.
"I went on to the pitch to give one of my team-mates some water, and his marker said something terrible to me. He told me to go back to my cotton fields.
"I got a shock. That had never happened to me... that was the first time. I just sat down on the sideline and I was quiet for the rest of the match. I was embarrassed, I was upset. I didn't understand why someone would say something like that."
Franz said that he had not made a complaint at the time, but that the referee had been informed of the matter and the player received a ban.
Franz also spoke of his experience while working in a supermarket in Dingle, and how he is regularly asked about where he's from.
"Customers come in and they ask me weird questions, like where are you from? I tell them that I was born and raised here. Then they say, 'tell us the truth'. I tell them I'm Irish but they push and push and push to find out why I'm black. It happens quite often, about once a month. They're older people, they don't understand, they don't mean to be mean to me, but it happens."
An Ghaeltacht footballer Franz Sauerland outlines some of the racist abuse he has suffered. It's shocking to hear this happens regularly. Franz is a wonderful role model & our parish is very proud of him.— Seán Mac an tSíthigh (@Buailtin) June 8, 2020
He will be joining a Black Lives Matter protest, Dingle at 2pm @NuachtTG4 pic.twitter.com/g2pPMcKlNt
Franz also spoke out about his experience on Instagram over the weekend, and said that he had been inspired to do so by Stefan Okunbor, a former Kerry player now playing Aussie Rules, who has shared his own experience of racism in the last few days.
In the interview, Franz described the difficulty of being different as a young boy when there was only one black family in the area.
"It's not so hard now because I'm grown up, but it was very hard about 10 years ago as a boy, looking around and realising that I was the only black person here in this area, other than my own family.
"It was challenging because I was different. I always felt I had to work twice as hard as my friends, even on the football field, to be better than everyone, so that they'd respect me, so that they would see me as equal, a good player, that they would look up to me and all that."
Franz said that it was vital that people of all races were supporting the current protests against racism all over the world.
"It gives us great support. If it was only black people, there wouldn't be as many people, and it wouldn't be such a big thing, but to see people of every race, all over the world, taking part, it's brilliant."