Tackling Racism: British Asians face more than just ‘one or two issues’

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Last Updated: 02/09/19 11:36pm

The Independent's chief sports writer Jonathan Liew believes the lack of British Asian representation in football cannot be down to just 'one or two causes'
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The Independent's chief sports writer Jonathan Liew believes the lack of British Asian representation in football cannot be down to just 'one or two causes'

The lack of British Asians in football cannot be defined by just "one or two issues", with a number of avenues needing to be explored, according to the Tackling Racism panel.

Despite there being 3,700 professional football players in the English game, just 11 are from a British Asian background, making up for only 0.3 per cent of the entire total.

"These things never have one or two causes, it's never just a lack of role models or cultural factors," The Independent's chief sports writer Jonathan Liew said.

"We've been talking about this issue for the last 20 to 30 years so it has to go deeper than this - it has to be structural reasons, social reasons and representation in all walks of life.

"When people talk about British Asians not being represented in football it's all these issues across the board - from grassroots to schools, scouting, clubs, academies as well as institutional."

'You can't be what you can't see'

Reshmin Chowdhury believes a lack of relatable role models has affected the number of British Asians involved in sport.
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Reshmin Chowdhury believes a lack of relatable role models has affected the number of British Asians involved in sport.

Sports journalist and presenter Reshmin Chowdhury believes the lack of Asian role models plays a huge part in the problem with the idea 'you can't be what you can't see' fundamental in helping create a clear pathway for aspiring youngsters.

"If you want to aspire to be something, you have to feel as if there is a genuine path to do it," Chowdhury said.

"Those kind of role models are so important, just to have someone there who looks like you or has the same background makes such a difference because you can connect with that person without even knowing them.

"I didn't have a single relevant role model to aspire to - all my role models were white men, while the women I didn't relate to either because we didn't have similar backgrounds - other than we were women who loved sport.

"There was not a single relevant role model for me, but thankfully that is changing."

British Asians have to go 'above and beyond'

Charlton Athletic Women head coach Riteesh Mishra says ethnic minority coaches are forced to “go above and beyond” to “level the playing field” in coaching
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Charlton Athletic Women head coach Riteesh Mishra says ethnic minority coaches are forced to “go above and beyond” to “level the playing field” in coaching

Charlton Athletic Women's manager Riteesh Mishra, who is also part of the FA's Asian Inclusion Plan, does believe there are opportunities out there - but ethnic minorities, unfortunately, have to work harder for them.

"It is difficult because you don't necessarily see someone who looks like you or comes from the same background as you," Mishra said.

"There are opportunities that are created but perhaps if you are an ethic minority you have to, unfortunately, be prepared to go above and beyond to level the playing field for yourself.

"You have to volunteer for a long time and build experience in different ways and then there's more emphasis on you to take the opportunities when they come."

'No institutionalised racism in scouting'

Colchester United's director of performance Jon De Souza believes scouts are more worried about missing out on potential players than what their ethnicity is
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Colchester United's director of performance Jon De Souza believes scouts are more worried about missing out on potential players than what their ethnicity is

However, Colchester United's director of Performance Jon De Souza refuted claims that there was institutionalised racism in football - particularly in scouting potential players.

"I would disagree with that, the biggest driver and fear for most scouts is missing out on players," De Souza said.

"Most scouts are petrified at missing out on the one that might go to another club and be successful.

"I believe most clubs look in every area possible within their catchment area to get the best players.

"Having worked at Luton, Brentford and now Colchester we certainly looked for players in every possible area and we are very keen to find the best possible players

"No-one would want to run the risk of missing out on a key player regardless of their ethnicity."

Watch the 'Tackling Racism' series on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Main Event at 9pm on Mondays.