• Monday, May 16, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Asian boy ‘racially abused’ at London football game

Sathi Balaguru, was playing in a nine-a-side match for Pitshanger FC in west London when the incident happened.

By: Sattwik Biswal

A 12-year-old Asian footballer was racially abused during a match as his family criticised the local Football Association for lack of support.

  • His family also said the opposition team is yet to apologise after the incident.
  • Sathi Balaguru was playing in a nine-a-side match for Pitshanger FC in west London, where he was tripped and called an “Indian boy”.
  • A player from the opposition team also directed a racist Indian accent towards him, the Guardian reported.

Balaguru is British and is of Sri Lankan heritage.


Also Read | Patel says online racist abuse offenders to be banned from games


Sixteen months after the alleged incident took place, he decided to speak out and said he wanted “everyone to have an equal chance”.

He fears his ethnicity will limit his progress in the game.

Balaguru was the only Asian player on the pitch that day and said he feels “having an Asian background will already bring my chances down by about 50 per cent of being a professional footballer”.

According to the FA, players from the Asian communities are “the most under-represented in almost every area of the grassroots and professional games”.

Data in the 2019-2020 season showed that only eight out of about 4,000 English professional footballers who played in the top four divisions were Asians.

Last year, Hamza Choudhury of Leicester became the first British Asian to win the FA Cup.

Balaguru’s team was playing Wealdstone Youth FC in October 2020 when the racist incident happened and was recorded in the referee’s report.

I had never experienced it before,” he told the Guardian.I had no way to describe my feelings and I felt paralysed and upset.

Reports suggest that Wealdstone’s coach told the referee after the match that he had to shout at a player after Indian accents were directed at Balaguru.

Curtis Alleyne, Pitshanger FC’s safeguarding officer, contacted Middlesex FA and Wealdstone, but the FA said there could not be any misconduct charges against people under 11, as per the FA rules.

However, a month after the incident Middlesex FA said it was coordinating with Wealdstone “who have already begun the education to the players”.

Middlesex FA told the Guardian it spoke with Balaguru, his parents and Alleyne last October and offered help through the Sporting Chance charity, which provides support for victims of discrimination. It said “we fully investigate all allegations of discrimination in line with FA rules”.

But Balaguru said: “From the Middlesex FA I have had no support.” By May 2021, he still had not received an apology.

Eastern Eye

Related Stories

Eastern Eye

Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…