Category Archives: Football

Why Asians (Still) Can’t Play Football: the US$45tn Rhetorical Question

As YouTube attains a certain level of commercial maturity, we at Mediolana continue to be impressed by the output from the team at COPA90, one of the very few independent channels to successfully bridge the gap between basement video creation and recycled ‘legacy’ media clips. One of their most recent (and perhaps controversial) offerings is well worth under fifteen minutes of any football fan’s time.

In Why Do British Asians Never Make It Pro?, host Adam McKola poses one of the more discomfiting socio-cultural questions of our time: how it is possible that in 2019, there are not enough professional footballers of British Asian ethnic origin in the first four levels of the English soccer pyramid to even come close to filling a single match day squad?

A particular strength of this piece is that it correctly underlines the inadequacies of conventional theories – parental preferences, cultural proclivities, middle-class economic aspirations – which seek to explain this stark lacuna. Ultimately, there is no shortage of football-mad, working-class people of Asian heritage in the United Kingdom; ceteris paribus, it defies all rational expectations that there has not been a single ‘breakout’ player emerge from a broadly-defined community numbered in its millions.

However, at the end of McKola’s mini-documentary, our Creative Director & CSO was left slightly unfulfilled when it came to both the historical treatment of this issue and prescriptions for a remedy.

The question of why British Asians have enjoyed only the most marginal of successes in the country which codified the modern form of the beautiful game was being asked by anti-racism campaigners at least as far back as twenty years ago, when it became clear that the coming of age of second-generation UK Asians was not being accompanied by their acceptance into what is arguably the nation’s single most important cultural experience; the fact that only the slightest of progress has been registered in all this time evinces just how stubbornly positive change is being resisted.

As uncomfortable as it is to articulate, the only plausible explanation for this dynamic is the existence of a form of structural discrimination which is so profound that it shapes interactions on a much more powerful level than most of us would like to admit. The legacy of colonialism – which involved the heisting of at least US$45tn from the Indian subcontinent, surely one of the greatest acts of de-development in history, recorded or otherwise – means that in England, pseudo-nationalist demagogues and well-meaning liberals alike are curiously united in regarding British Asians, in this particular context and perhaps others, as essentially invisible; additionally, a media which simultaneously portrays South Asian males as night-time economy predators and sexual sub-incels is doing nothing to promote an objective perception of their attributes, sporting or otherwise.

Once this truth has been accepted and internalised, the path forward for the British Asian soccer stars of the future is clear: they must seek their fortunes in systems which have actually demonstrated that they do value players of South Asian descent equally. Holland, Norway and France have all recognised footballers of subcontinental origin with caps at full international level; this fact alone should be enough to end the collective British Asian fixation on a Premier League which evidently has little place for their type.

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2019 AFC Asian Cup Latest: Next World Cup Host ‘Suddenly Credible Soccer Force’!

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New Year’s Revolution: Iran’s Women ‘Will Rock the Azadi’! #OpenStadiums

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World Cup Withdrawal Symptoms Latest: Dinamo Zagreb Continue Croatia’s Summer of Success!

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Tout le monde il est beau: France Conquer Planet Football!

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Beyond Good and Evil: England’s Postmodern Football Poses Existential Questions #WorldCup

Notwithstanding the fact that this company’s web presence is home to a fast-moving blog, we at Mediolana generally try to resist the (sometimes acute) temptation to lurch into instantaneous and ultimately ‘thin’ reactions to world events. Nevertheless, the astounding advance of the England national football team to the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup merits serious and speedy analysis.

The crux of the matter: at this tournament, England have done nothing less than author a new, postmodern school of football. Up to now, soccer teams have generally tried to score goals from passing the ball to each other in such a way as to create space in which goalscoring chances might be converted; failing this, they resorted to a more physical interpretation of the sport, playing direct balls into dangerous areas and hoping to gain possession from knock-downs and inadequate clearances.

However, England are eschewing the open play routes – and in fact, any semblance of what has traditionally been construed as ‘football’ – by using the inevitable hurly-burly of the penalty box at set-pieces to induce what can plausibly be perceived as fouls; these incidents are then vociferously brought to the attention of the referee and, indirectly, his video assistants.

That these types of fouls are not merely often ambiguous but rarely awarded to any other team has – true to historical form – scarcely registered with most of the British media. But some extraordinary existential questions lie ahead for the beautiful game if this curious hybrid of staged wrestling and pseudo-litigation succeeds in propelling the English beyond the last eight; FIFA’s decision to introduce VAR is acquiring an invidious dimension.

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Kroos Control: Why Psychological Resilience is the Attribute Du Jour

We at Mediolana are presently in the frontline of an unprecedented (for 2018, at least) heatwave which is sweeping through this company’s home town of London, England. But in truth, our spare thoughts capacity (‘STC’) has recently been in thrall to a different type of wave altogether – the Mexican type which is strongly associated with FIFA World Cups.

Specifically – as we try and keep at least one eye on the tournament while our little corporate world is undergoing something of a transformation (and we don’t mean the arrival of a new coffee machine or photocopier, great as these accoutrements are) – the theme of resilience, which has become such a leitmotiv in recent years that it almost inevitably raises the suspicion that large sections of the population are, in fact, losing it, is looming large in our consciousness.

A key feature of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was the extent to which matches were defined not just by factors such as player quality or coaching ingenuity, but by the psychological health (or otherwise) of teams. Could they avoid making palpably dodgy and needless back passes? Could they manage to stay in position instead of wandering upfield to no discernible purpose? And could they pull a rabbit from the hat when the chips were truly down?

To the probable surprise of many – but not us, truth be told – the 2018 FIFA World Cup is continuing the prove the importance of being able to handle stress, pressure and the simple knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are watching your every move. Without talent and hard work, there is no end product; but without the ability to make the most of what you have by being able to tune out noise on a simply incomparable scale, there may be no glory.

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