Another 6 years on from the Asians in Football Forum publication of Asians Can Play Football, Asians are still under-represented in professional football, according to Kevin Coleman of Kickitout.
Kickitout is an organisation that campaigns for equality in football, from the grass roots level and up.
Michael Chopra from Sunderland AFC and Zesh Rehman of Queen’s Park Rangers, are some of the few Asian footballers who have made it to the professional level.
Kevin Coleman also says that the numbers of Asians in football goes down further when the level of football becomes higher, meaning that very few make it to the top.
When the 1996 article Asians Can’t Play Football was published by the Asian Social Development Agency, 0.2% of children in football academies were Asian.
After attempts at increasing the inclusion of Asians in football, the percentage still only reached 0.8%, according to the Asians in Football Forum.
Various researches from the University of Nottingham and Manchester imply that there are cultural reasons behind the lack of Asians in professional football.
Being a footballer is often discouraged by Asian parents, as doctors, engineers and accountants are seen as more honourable professions.
There have also been issues of diet, religion and gender, which have prevented Asians from participating properly.
Kickitout is breaking down religious barriers too. The organization and British Muslims are cooperating with Mosques to ensure that young Muslims both attend the Madrasah and get the opportunity to play football.
“Change would have happened anyway due to changes in society, but we’ve speeded up the process,” says Kevin Coleman.
Kickitout continues its Asian initiative by involving Premier league players in grass roots projects, and supporting programs such as Chelsea’s Asian Star search.
On the ground level, attitudes within the Asian community towards football as a worthwhile profession remain an obstacle to Asian success in the sport.