Representation number ‘must increase’
As Premier League clubs continue to spend millions of pounds on players from around the world, one demographic is still missing in the country’s favourite sport – Asians.
Currently, the only player of British Asian descent playing in the Premier League is Swansea City’s Neil Taylor, while Adil and Samir Nabi at West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa’s Easah Suliman and Liverpool’s Yan Dhanda are among a host of prospects hoping to make it into the top tier.
With such little representation across the top tiers of the game, Asians are struggling to make their mark on the pitch.
Sporting Equals, the UK’s leading charity promoting ethnic diversity in sport and physical activity, have been working to create a more reflective game.
This week, they have announced the continuation of their strategic partnership with the UK Asian Football Championships – now in its 18th year – as they help to raise the profile of Asians in football.
The event is organised by the Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association SEMSA and in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Rangers Football Club and Celtic Football Club.
Arun Kang CEO Sporting Equals commenting on the partnership said: “We are delighted to be able to support the Asian Football Championships in its eighteenth year of being.
“Even though this is a momentous achievement in itself it is still sad to think that after 18 years, there still remains a lack of Asian footballers at elite level here in the UK.
“We feel that greater thinking needs to be carried out by influencing bodies to promote Asian football talent.
“However, in this instance, we congratulate the fantastic commitment and support of the Asian Football Championships who have kept alive this issue to empower Asian footballers, coaches and volunteers.”
Kash Siddiqi is one of only nine Asian footballers to have played in the Football League and is a big supporter of Sporting Equals.
Commenting on the existing problems in the game, he said: “It is great to see initiatives such as the Asian Football Championships taking place. The event provides a great platform for Asian football talent.”
Paul Elliott, former Celtic FC player and the first black professional footballer to sit on the FA Council, is supporting the championships.
With preliminary games set to be played at Glasgow Green Football Centre before the final is staged at Celtic Park, he has more connection than most to the tournament this year.
“Whilst it is great to see significant numbers of professional footballers from the African Caribbean communities it is concerning that, in comparison, south Asian communities have yet to break through in any significant number,” he said.
“More thought and understanding is needed of the challenges that have prevented Asian players to enter the elite game in the UK.
“This tournament helps to keep shining the light on this important issue and I congratulate Sporting Equals and SEMSA in supporting and organising it.”