• Friday, April 12, 2024

FOOTBALL

British Asian man alleges racial bias by Liverpool FC

Asad Farooq alleged that Liverpool rejected his application, favouring a less experienced candidate for a post

General view outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield on December 23, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

A British Asian man has taken legal action against Liverpool FC, accusing the club of racial discrimination in the handling of his job application, The Guardian reported.

The lawsuit alleged that Liverpool rejected Asad Farooq’s (25) application, favouring a less experienced candidate for the position.

According to Farooq, he has a degree in stadium and event management, boasts a commendable professional background, having worked for Tottenham Hotspur and at the Qatar World Cup.

However, Liverpool did not extend an invitation for an interview despite his application for an administrative role in November last year.

The advertised position explicitly sought candidates with experience in an elite sporting environment. A message subsequently received by Farooq stated that the experience demonstrated in his application was not as robust as that of the candidates selected for interviews.

Unwilling to accept this decision without scrutiny, Farooq, a Liverpool supporter residing in Birmingham, took the legal action.

Yunus Lunat, a lawyer known for being the first Muslim to sit on the Football Association (FA) council, and the ethnic minority representative on Liverpool’s official supporters’ committee, took up Farooq’s case.

Farooq expressed his frustration with the apparent discrepancy between Liverpool’s public commitment to diversity and their recruitment practices. He pointed out that as a South Asian, he had faced challenges breaking into the football industry, despite being highly qualified and capable.

“I’m more than capable of doing the [Liverpool] job. I’m not going to drop this because they’re claiming that they are all about diversity, they’re claiming that they want South Asians to come into the football industry, but then they do these bad recruitment practices and don’t give us these opportunities. They’re talking about how they want to break down barriers, but this is not breaking down barriers,” Farooq was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

The situation took a turn when Farooq discovered that the individual appointed to the role – based on their LinkedIn profile – lacked football experience and had only held one full-time job since graduation.

Farooq, who also holds over 500 hours of volunteering experience with the FA as a team liaison officer, questioned the club’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. He asserted that Liverpool’s purported dedication to breaking down barriers did not align with their recruitment practices, emphasising the need for transparency.

Despite Farooq’s request for the club’s diversity statistics, Liverpool has refused to disclose this information. The only publicly available figures are in the FA’s 2022-23 Football Leadership Diversity Code report, where Liverpool fell short of the targets set for new hires in senior leadership and team operations roles.

Liverpool’s website prominently declares the club’s commitment to leading in equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and the club holds the Premier League’s highest honour for EDI.

The club declined to comment on Farooq’s case, citing ongoing legal proceedings, and has not provided diversity data to The Guardian. It is expected that the club will seek to contest the case during an employment tribunal hearing scheduled for March.

Lunat, who is representing Farooq in this case, emphasized the broader implications of such incidents in the football industry. He highlighted the lack of improvement in race demographics over the past two decades and called for a fundamental shift in attitudes and increased transparency.

“It is a sad indictment of the football workforce that there has been little if any improvement in its race demographics in the last 20 years, and I am still churning out the same comments and statements,” Lunat was quoted as saying.

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