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Zidane Iqbal becomes first British South Asian player to represent Man Utd after substitute appearance in Champions League

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Credit: ManchesterUnited instagram

Youngster Zidane Iqbal made history on Wednesday at Old Trafford, becoming the first British South Asian to represent Manchester United when he came on as a substitute against Young Boys in the Champions League.

Manchester United had already secured their place in the Champions League Second Round following their 2-1 win away at Villarreal and therefore made a number of changes in the final game-week as they drew at home to Swiss side BSC Young Boys.

United took an early lead on the night courtesy of young starlet Mason Greenwood in the 9th minute before the visitors found an equaliser three minutes before half time. The fixture finished 1-1 with neither team being able to effect their final placings going into the final group game.

Credit: ManchesterUnited instagram

Midfielder Iqbal is a local Manchester lad from Whalley Range, born to a Pakistani father and Iraqi mother. After being part of the Red Devils youth set-up for many years, he signed his first professional contract in April.

Recent figures suggest that – despite making up about 7% of the British population, only 0.25% of professional footballers are from any British Asian background. 

Charlie Savage, son of Robbie Savage, also made his debut from the bench on Wednesday evening in a memorable night for both youngsters.

What do we know about Zidane Iqbal?

Named after the great Zinedine, Zidane Iqbal could represent England, Iraq or Pakistan but chose to represent Iraq in their u23 friendlies earlier this year.

He wears number 73 for Man Utd and plays in the midfield. Simon Stone from the BBC believes Zidane is a very talented futsal player as his brother is Daoud is thought to be a promising talent.

The teenager netted for United’s youngsters against Sunderland in the EFL Trophy last month, and followed that, scoring the opener in the 4-2 UEFA Youth League win against Atalanta.

Iqbal is one of five British South Asian Premier League players on a full-time professional contract alongside Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, Aston Villa’s Arjan Raikhy, Tottenham’s Dilan Markanday and Wolves defender Kam Kandola.

It was the first time that a footballer of that heritage has played for an English club in the Champions League since Michael Chopra played for Newcastle United in the 2002-03 season – a long time coming.

Zidane Iqbal’s reaction

Ahead of his debut on Wednesday evening where he replaced Jessie Lingard in the second half:

“It feels amazing, I’ve been working my whole life for this opportunity. It’s a dream come true, it’s just the start and hopefully I can keep pushing on. It was crazy, I was waiting for the ball to go out, embracing it all, looking at the fans. When I came on the loud cheer from the fans was unreal.

He added:

“It was more excitement. Last night I just about slept. I was just embracing it all really. I was hoping to get a touch. I did thankfully. I really enjoyed it.”

Why is this so important for British South Asians in football?

Iqbal’s appearance in Manchester United’s squad is arguable one of the most important events in what has been the biggest-ever year for Britain’s South Asian football community.

To represent one of the biggest teams in the world is a huge moment for everyone involved…

A spokesperson for official England supporters’ group Apna England said:

“This is obviously a proud moment for everyone associated with Manchester United Football Club but it is also absolutely monumental for South Asians in the game. Iqbal is an exceptional talent, whose commitment, work-ethic and dedication to making it at the highest level has been rewarded by one of the biggest clubs in world football.”

He added:

“With urgent action required to tackle inequalities that persist across football, there is no better way to inspire change than by highlighting those that are blazing a trail in our game.”

Join in the conversation and have your say…

 

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Meet the British Woman Hoping to End F1’s 46-year Wait For a Female Driver

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The modern sports industry remains a very male dominated field. Historically motorsport especially being one of the most inaccessible to women.

In its entire 72-year history, only two women have ever driven in a Formula 1 grand prix. The last was the pioneer Lella Lombardi, the Italian who competed in 12 races between 1974 and 1976 for teams including Williams.

Now, Britain’s Jamie Chadwick is aiming to end the 46-year wait for a woman to sit behind the wheel of a car on the starting grid at the very top level of racing.

The 23-year-old from Bath, is the most prominent woman in world the world of motorsport thanks to the strong results she has earned in the early stages of her career across multiple categories.

Chadwick is about to embark on her third season in W Series, an all-female racing championship launched in 2019 which aims to ensure more women are able to make professional careers out of motor racing.

The aim means that, in conjunction with the heated rivalry that understandably comes with battling for the championship on track, the athletes competing in W Series feel they share a common goal to help one another improve and make overall progress for women in motorsport too. Chadwick has won the title in both of W Series’ first two campaigns.

Speaking to Metro she said:  ‘Everyone expects us not to get on [because we are rivals] but we really, genuinely do. The big reason in my opinion is that we’ve all been through such a similar experience in the sport individually. We can share those experiences with each other and push each other to bring one another on, and hopefully leave the sport in a better place for the next generation coming through.’

Do you think she stands a chance of making it?

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Newcastle co-owner says Chelsea’s Abramovich having to sell isn’t fair

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Credit: Chelsea FC Instagram

Newcastle co-owner Amanda Staveley “doesnt think its particularly fair” that Roman Abramovich is selling following the Russia-Ukraine war.

The businessman announced he had made the “incredibly difficult decision” in a statement on the Premier League club’s website.

There has been calls for Abramovich to be sanctioned, as Chris Bryant alleges leaked Home Office document from 2019 shows he had links to Russian state as well as to “corrupt activity and practices” – the Guardian reports.

Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, Staveley said: “We’re always going to have geopolitical issues.

I’m really sad that someone is going to have a football club taken away because of a relationship he may have with someone.

“I don’t think that’s particularly fair to be honest. But I also think that we have to hold all of our relationships to account.”

In his statement, Abramovich said: “I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart.

“In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.

“The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process.”

Abramovich has said that he won’t be asking for loans to be repaid.

He added: “I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

The businessman bought Chelsea back in 2003 for £140m, and has since loaned the club over £1.5bn.

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has told Swiss newspaper Blick that he has the chance to buy Chelsea.

However he says that at the moment Abramovich is “asking far too much.”

What are your thoughts?

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Russia’s captain Aleksandr Golovin speaks out on Russian invasion

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Credit: Aleksandr Golovin Instagram

Russia’s football captain Aleksandr Golovin has spoke out about the Russia-Ukraine war.

In a post uploaded to Instagram on Wednesday, the footballer said he hadn’t before now because he wasn’t an expert in politics.

However, he said he would now express his opinion, because he has been drawn to this topic from “all sides.”

It follows furious backlash from Ukrainian players Vitalii Mykolenko and Andriy Yarmolenko about Russian players staying quiet about the invasion of Ukraine.

The captain wrote: “War is a frightful thing. But I am shocked by human aggression and hatred, which every day acquires some sort of unprecedented scale.

“I am against discrimination based on nationality. I’m not ashamed that I’m Russian. I am proud to be Russian. And I don’t understand why athletes should suffer now.”

He continued he was “against double standards.”

Golovin added: “Why is it that one can do everything, but all the dogs are hanged on us. Why has everyone always shouted about sports outside of politics, but at the first opportunity, when it comes to Russia, this principle is completely forgotten?”

He expressed that “anger, dirt and bile” is being poured on Russian people, “regardless of their position and profession.”

The Zenit St Petersburg forward concluded: “P.S. And to some colleagues in the workshop who sit on their ass in mansions in England and say nasty things: it cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and goodness to everybody!”

On Tuesday in an Instagram post, Everton’s Mykolenko criticised Russia’s international players for remaining silent whilst “peaceful civilians are being killed in Ukraine.”

The 22-year-old wrote: “You will be locked in your dungeon for the rest of your life and most importantly the lives of your kids. And I’m glad.”

West Ham’s Yarmolenko also hit out at Russian players on Tuesday.

In a video uploaded to Instagram, he said: “Guys, why are you sitting like shitheads and not saying anything? In my country they’re killing people, killing wives, killing our children. But you’re saying nothing, you’ve given no comments.”

Russia has been suspended from all competition, Fifa and Uefa have ruled.

 

 

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