Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari has revealed a top six club has told parents they are not interested in signing Asian kids because of “scandalous lazy racial stereotypes.”
Bhandari conducted a “strategic review” and spoke to around 250 people across the game and six sets of parents told a similar story, including one shocking admission from an academy coach at a big club.
It perhaps reveals why Kick It Out – which is trying to improve representation and has supported FA's new diversity code – believes there are so few Asian players in the Premier League despite football being so popular among kids.
Michael Chopra, Zesh Rehman, Neil Taylor and Hamza Choudhury are the only Asian players to have played in nearly 30 years of the Premier League.
Bhandari said: “In each case, an academy coach or scout had asked the parents: ‘Why should I waste time with your kid when you will just want them to be an accountant or a lawyer?’
“And that included an academy coach from at least one club from the Big Six Premier League clubs – these were not clubs from some hick backwater.
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“It is scandalous that such lazy racial stereotypes are still being peddled and accepted. Clubs need processes that remove these unconscious biases from the system.”
One of the key areas that also needs improving is anti semitism which just does not get nearly enough focus considering it is such an issue, particularly in London football.
There is justifiable frustration particularly from Action Against Discrimination who feel excluded from the Code and the general conversation.
Bhandari added: “Anti-semitism (particularly around certain London games), Islamophobia, racism towards South Asians and South-East Asians (particularly in light of Covid and the demonising of China), homophobia, biphobia and transphobia all remain major challenges that have moved online whilst games are played behind closed doors.
“At Kick It Out, we have been looking at, for example, how we can expand our partnerships with technology companies like Signify to use Artificial Intelligence tools to monitor social media abuse of this kind. We believe that football clubs should be investing much more in this space.”
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