FC Dallas forward Fafa Picault has spoken openly about the racism he was forced to endure during his time on the books at Cagliari as a teenager, revealing that even his coach was involved in the long-term abuse.
Picault, now 29, was born in New York to Haitian immigrant parents and developed a love for football from a young age when playing on the streets of the city.
At 16, the attacker made the brave choice to move to Italy and begin his career in Cagliari's youth side, firmly moving out of his comfort zone as he pursued a career at the highest possible level.
And while Picault has admitted in the past that his stint in Europe was hugely helpful for his on-field development, the abuse he suffered at the hands of team-mates, staff and fans ultimately saw him return to the US after five massively testing years.
“You have different forms of racism,” Picault said in a Facebook live chat. “I've dealt with it differently in different locker rooms and in stadiums.
“When I moved to Italy I was about 16 and I moved up to the first team around 17 years old. I was split between what a lot of young players do where you train with the first team and go back and play reserve games with the reserve team.
“Our coach at the time with the reserve team was probably one of the worst people I've met. Daily, I had to deal with him calling me a monkey or telling me I need to go back to the jungle in Africa, black players don't have technique, you're just fast, go run, we brought you here to run.
“He didn't bring me, the president brought me, but he said that's what I was brought for. When we would train he would just say anything that was nasty. If I told a younger guy to do something he would say: 'No, you have to do it because you're black'.
“I would have monkey stickers posted in my locker at times and I was getting in fist fights maybe twice a week.
“I was managing that with AP classes back home that I was finishing online and also still have to perform on the soccer field – which was probably the easiest part.
“The easiest part was the soccer at the time.”