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Sporting Equals CEO Arun Kang OBE Statement Regarding Amir Khan Comments

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Sporting Equals have grave concerns regarding the dangerous reinforcement of untrue stereotypes the former professional boxer made and the setback this will have for the British South Asian community. Knowing the stereotyping he experienced post the 2005 London bombings while accessing the elite level of sport. Such narratives from a sporting hero signal to those in the sports sector with stereotyped views of the British South Asian community that their misconceptions around diet and ability are valid. This is extremely harmful in terms of progression for the British South Asian community in the talent pathway.

The boxer claimed that British South Asians simply give up and use racism as an excuse to compensate for lack of ability and dedication. The perpetuation that British South Asians are not suited or built for sport due to poor diet was baffling and extremely frustrating as he has now further reinforced stereotypes the British South Asian community has long fought to diminish. We had hoped in his retirement he would reflectively speak of his successes and communicate an inspiring legacy to motivate young British South Asians to engage in sport and have elite level ambitions. Such misinformed and misguided comments have caused greater harm to the community.

We know there is talent and resilience within the British South Asian community, what has been lacking is the correct structures and interventions from the football family. More relevant solutions are needed to address the barriers and issues of racism towards British South Asians in football. Platforming views that poor diet or a give up and blame racism mentality insinuates racism can be overlooked and is not a barrier to elite sport. The sport sector has been working to become more anti-racist, progress is occurring but there is still a long way to go to undo systemic racism. Amir's comments though reflective of his lived experience have unfortunately done more to undermine victims of racism and continue a damning narrative for British South Asians. The community has long since progressed in terms of awareness of health and diet and would not agree with the picture being painted. Our British Asians in Sport and Physical Activity Network which represents over 150 organisations in sport, including British South Asian football clubs, who would staunchly challenge the portrayal of the community and their understanding of health, diet and drive.

Rather than remarking about instances of racism, which can be extremely harmful, nuanced and varies in extremity case to case we wish Amir had rather focused on being an advocate for the British South Asian community within sport. We hope that the community will not allow such comments to undermine their own experiences and ambitions regarding sport and instances of racism. We offer our continued support to the British South Asian community to remind them sport is for all communities and concerns of racism should under no circumstance be tolerated.