Racism, football and cultural difference : the experience of Scottish Asians
The existence and influence of racism in Scottish society has largely been ignored, while claims that there is 'no racism here' have persisted. The social field of football has distinct properties but is not exempt from the processes and structures of wider social life. Racism has often been misrepresented as only existing in extreme forms. However, the subtle and complex expressions of contemporary racism are more prevalent, but receive far less recognition and criticism. This thesis is specifically concerned with the experiences of Scottish Asian ethnic minorities whose presence in elite football has been negligible. The racism which confronts this group is not independent of the racism faced by Irish-Scots and black people in Scotland. A further prejudice which interacts with these is anti-Englishness. Thus, not only does racism take various forms, but it has various targets. Analysing racism requires a sophisticated approach sensitive to the many forms which racism takes, and the different locations in which it is expressed. Furthermore, it requires awareness of the myths which have historically accompanied racist prejudice. The first section of this thesis addresses two specific myths: that South Asians do not play football; and that Scottish football is free of racism. The type of racism which emerged in both South Asian and Scottish football is detailed and analysed. The second section critically evaluates contemporary issues of Scottish Asian inclusion in football, and considers closely the types of subtle and implicit variants of racism which are evident in Scottish society. The third and final section offers a cultural description of Scottish Asian football culture, describing localised processes of resistance, while critically challenging essentialistic accounts of ethnicity. Football, in short, is a place where power is negotiated in Scottish society. Racism is prevalent in various guises, yet it is rarely acknowledged, and its more implicit guises require subtle and sustained analytical criticism.