Hearts striker Armand Gnanduillet opens up on suffering racist abuse

Hearts striker Armand Gnanduillet has urged other young footballers to speak out against racism, after opening up on abuse he suffered in his homeland.

Armand Gnanduillet in action for Hearts during a Scottish Championship match between Hearts and Dunfermline Athletic at Tynecastle. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The French-born forward joined up at Tynecastle last month and made an immediate impact – firing two goals on his debut as a substitute in Hearts’ 4-0 win over Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.

And the 6’4” striker, has told others inspired to follow in his footsteps not to be put off by abuse and to speak out, rather than lash out as he did in his formative football years.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

The Ivory Coast youth international relived the abuse as a young player and said: “It's important to talk about this cause it's something that shouldn't be allowed - it can break people.

“Unfortunately I have been abused because of my skin colour. I was young at the time. I'm French and in France you've got a lot of people like that. When it happened my first reaction was to fight because I wasn't happy.

"But then when I grew up I realised you can’t always have a fight with people like that because they are stupid - I was more sad for them anything else.

"Of course it hurt, I didn't really understand why they were doing it but as I said, there are a lot of stupid human beings.”

Football authorities in England have written to social media companies over abuse being received by players and told Twitter and Facebook to do more to protect players from a abuse – and the former Blackpool and Oxford United striker agreed more could be done.

In an interview with anti-racism group Unify UK he said: “Clearly [football authorities] can do more. We always can do more by talking and educating from a young age. With social media you can pass on some positive messages and in football too.”

And Gnanduillet urged other to open up as he had done – and not to give up on their football dream. He added: "Enjoy football because the time goes quick – they are not doing anything wrong by practising the sport they love. Always open your mouth if someone abuses you. Don’t be afraid to – everyone is different but by talking you may give a little push for someone else to talk.”

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.