Racism in football could hamper the efforts to bring in more ethnic minority players into the game, said a prominent Asian player.
Riz Rehman, the brother of former Fulham, QPR and Bradford defender Zesh, said racist incidents will hurt efforts undertaken to bring more BAME coaches and players.
“It is going to hurt – the way it is said and who says it, it can have an impact,” said Rehman, according to the BBC.
Rehman has been appointed as the new chair of the Surrey Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Group.
In addition, he is also a trustee for the Zesh Rehman Foundation, which tries to drive sports participation, community cohesion and social development through football.
“Football reflects society,” he said. “Racism is in society. I am sure it has an impact.
“I have spoken to people from Bradford who have taken their teams to tournaments where they have been racially abused. They have stopped doing so because they say nothing happens. That could be the reason why more Asians in particular don’t move further into the game.
“But I don’t believe the whole of football is racist. If it was, there would not be any diversity whatsoever. There is a minority who need more education.”
The battle against racism should begin at the very bottom, and hopefully, as young players move up the ladder they will be better equipped to deal with racism and discrimination, said Rehman.
The Birmingham-born Rehman also expressed concern at the lack of British Asians in football.
Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudhury and Swansea’s former England Under-17 international Yan Dhanda are just a few who have made it to the top.
“At the moment, for Asians, it is about playing the game,” he said.
“They are probably 10 to 20 years away from where we would like it to be. As for post-playing, you don’t see many black coaches or managers on benches at first-team games, let alone British Asians.”