Tag Archives: Pakistan

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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2014 Peshawar Attacks: A Turning Point for Pakistan’s #Education System?

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We at Mediolana usually have no problem with being prescient, but our 6th December 2014 blog post – Out With School, In With Militias? 2014 ‘A Year to Forget’ For #Students in Fragile States! – eerily foreshadowed the horrific events of earlier this week, when a school in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar suffered an apocalyptic terrorist attack which left at least 145 people dead; 132 of these casualties were students.

This deeply sobering event brings into sharp relief the price that children in fragile states can pay for the simple act of turning up to class: amoral assaults on educational facilities by maniacs with machine guns is far from the sole preserve of the suburban United States. But it also serves to highlight the vulnerability of Pakistan’s school system on multiple levels. Can the (most?) troubled South Asian state can use this national tragedy as a springboard to sanity, or will the unspeakable orgy of violence unleashed on minors be just another signpost en route to dystopia? After some reflection, we believe that the answer lies in how Pakistan addresses three vital issues:

  1. Security. This week’s attacks merely underscore what numerous cases – including that of Malala Yousafzai, the joint winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize – have shown: in recent years, Pakistan’s security situation has deteriorated to the point where the state is having trouble supplying one of the most basic amenities of all. Yet as things stand, it remains unclear whether there will be any improvement in this area in the foreseeable future: tactical errors and analytical lacunae continue to hobble the fight against the militant groups labelled ‘Taliban’ for convenience as much as for accuracy. As such, the descent into possible all-out civil war – virtually unthinkable in the year 2000 – is effectively continuing apace.
  2. Supremacy. The supremacy of the value of education – particularly public education – is something that has never been established in Pakistan since its formal inception in 1948; the formidable village school network that the (now divided) dominant province of Punjab vaunted as recently as the late-nineteenth century has never been adequately replaced. Rupees have instead flooded into military coffers to fight innumerable (and broadly unwinnable) wars – with a functionally-illiterate and malleable public hesitant to ask too many questions. Changing this will require a profound transformation.
  3. Success. Pakistan has not participated in any of the Programme for International Student Assessment (‘PISA’) surveys since that study’s inception in 1997; not a single one of its institutions feature in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2014 top 100. Both the Pakistani authorities and the general public have to recognise that for a country with the sixth-largest population in the world, this level of failure is simply unsustainable. While the victims of the atrocity at The Army Public School in Peshawar have rightly gained global attention, an entire generation of Pakistanis will continue to diligently and bravely attend school – only to be the future products of a less-than-mediocre structure.

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Football Diplomacy: India-Pakistan Series Ends With Honours Even!

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The New Life: Culture Trumps Politics as Urdu-Language TV Station Thrills India!

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