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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Clubs 'continue to discriminate'
Newcastle United's Michael Chopra
Chopra is one of two ethnic Asian players in the Premiership
Last month, a report by the Asians In Football forum heavily criticised the authorities in England, and urged the English FA and the Premier League to do more to bring on players from Britain's Asian minorities, especially South Asians. BBC World Service's World Football programme investigated these claims.

Sir Herman Ouseley, the head of the Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign, told World Football that he believed a discriminatory attitude amongst most clubs was to blame.

In particular, he said that there was not enough enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation - "one thing that frustrates me more than anything else."

"What we've got in this country is a situation where most people who discriminate and exclude know that they're not going to be caught - and most know even if they're caught, they're only going to get a slap on the wrist.

"What a broad-based campaign like ours has been able to do is shift attitudes - but we haven't been able to shift a lot of the real practice."

'Talent out there'

The Asians In Football report also claimed there was discrimination against Asian players in football.

It echoed the findings of a 2004 study by the Commission for Racial Equality, which found just 10 Asian players at the academies of the 20 Premier League clubs.

Richard Scudamore
There's absolutely no doubt that if they're good enough, they will get there
Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore
Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott said he believes the authorities have failed to create a welcome environment for Asian football lovers.

"There's a talent out there that needs to be embraced, identified, and more importantly welcomed," he said.

"I think that's one of the big problems. I'd like to see a better commitment, a better contact and network with clubs and the Asian community to make it more welcoming, because there's a talent there.

"I think this generation want to be professional footballers."

Out of 2.3 million South Asians living in the UK, only four professional players currently play in England. Of those, only two - Newcastle United's Michael Chopra and Fulham's Zesh Rehman - play in the Premiership.

The English FA and Premier League have often been blamed for not doing enough to promote football amongst the Asian community.

But Richard Scudamore, the chair of the Premier League, told World Football that it was possible there would be a sharp rise in the number of ethnic minorities at Premiership clubs within a year.

"If you look at the numbers, we have seen a large increase in the number of ethnic minorities represented at our academies," he said.

"The one sure thing you can say about any football club manager or chairman, it's that if they think a player is good enough, they will get an opportunity - no matter what race, what colour, what creed, what religion.

"There's absolutely no doubt that if they're good enough, they will get there."

Racism problem

And other positive developments are under way.

This year, London APSA and Sporting Bengal became the first Asian clubs to play in the FA Cup.

And an Asians-only sporting academy at West Ham is becoming increasingly popular.

Meanwhile, for the Asians that do play, racism is still a problem.

Adnan Ahmed, a midfielder with Huddersfield Town whose parents came from Pakistan in the 1970s, said he had "heard a bit at a few away games," although stressed that he had never been racially abused by Huddersfield fans.

"Our fans have been unbelievable towards me, they've taken to me and they really are a great bunch of fans," he added.

"But at away games, some of them are going to be ignorant people. Hopefully I've got to set an example where I don't react to it, and hopefully people will respect that."


SEE ALSO
Chopra knee injury fears allayed
06 Oct 05 |  Newcastle United
Ahmed rewarded with new contract
14 Apr 05 |  Huddersfield Town


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