A 12 year old British-Asian boy faced racism while playing a nine-a-side game for Pitshanger FC in West London. While he was taking a penalty, a player from the opposition side commented a racist Indian accent towards him.
16 months after the incident took place, he gained the courage to speak about the incident as he wants “everyone to have an equal chance”. Sathi was the only kid with an Asian Heritage on the field and feels like “having an Asian background has already reduced his chances of being a professional footballer by 50%”.
Last year Leicester City, player Hamza Choudhary became the first ever British-Asian player to win FA Cup title. According to One Tally, in 2019-20 season only 8 out of 4000 English professional footballers who were paying in the top 4 divisions were British-Asian.
Pitshanger was playing Wealdstone Youth FC in October 2020 when Wealdstone player commented a racist statement, and was recorded into the referee’s report. Sathi tried his best to “rise above it” but after the match he felt “isolated and alone”.
“I had never experienced it before,” said Sathi.
“I had no way to describe my feelings and I felt paralysed and upset.”
Safeguarding officer of Pitshanger FC, Curtis Alleyne, contacted Middlesex FA and Wealdstone, but the Football Association said that as per rules there could not be any misconduct charges against people below the age of 11.
Middlesex FA told the Guardian, that we spoke with Sathi, his parents and Alleyne last October and offered help from Sporting Chance Charity, which provides help for victims of discrimination.
It said “we fully investigate all allegations of discrimination in line with FA rules”.
But Sathi Balaguru said: “From the Middlesex FA I have had no support.”
Till May 2021, Sathi Balaguru had not received any kind of apology and Alleyne complained to FA, that “no-responses from clubs and governing bodies” were “indefensible”.
“We believe the club has apologised to them already but should this apology not have been properly conveyed to them then we would be happy to reinstate it,” it said.