From Brick Lane to White Hart Lane? Football, anti-racism and young, male, British Asian identities
This thesis investigates why British Asians are under-represented as professional footballers proportionally to their numbers in the overall population. Fundamentally, it is both an account of how young, male, British Asian footballers interpret and explain their under-representation in the professional game, and a critical analysis of the strategies and policies employed by the anti-racist football movement to overcome this phenomenon. The central problematic is that anti-racist football organisations are often out of touch with contemporary manifestations of "Asianness" and so the ideologies that underpin their schemes and initiatives are often in direct conflict with the attitudes and aspirations of young, male, British Asian footballers themselves. Using ethnographic research methods - namely semi- structured interviews with large numbers of professional and amateur British Asian footballers, professional football coaches and members of anti-racist football organisations, together with observations of matches, training sessions and social occasions involving British Asian players - this thesis seeks to overcome the previous "silencing" of British Asian footballers. It places their oral testimonies at the centre of the analysis of exclusion. Theoretically, this thesis examines how football interacts with issues of `race', ethnicity, nation, class, locality, family, generation, religion, style and consumption to construct new articulations and experiences of "Asianness". Consequently, the analysis calls for sociological frameworks that no longer essentialise and dichotomise "South Asian" and "British" cultures but that, instead, appreciate how, in the twenty-first century, these elements are actively fused to create specifically British Asian identities and lifestyles. In this regard, this thesis provides a sensitive and timely contribution to the fields of ethnic and racial studies, football and young people.