Judan Ali on Sir Alex Ferguson, The F.A. why he is determined to take a country ranked outside FIFA 100 rankings to a World Cup
The last 50 years in football as we know it here in the English game has undergone many changes, the introduction of stadiums to meet UEFA guidelines post Hillsborough tragedy (1989), Heysel (1985) was a lesson too. However, these are just two examples that have one thing in common and that is they have brought in a major change in the way the not so now “beautiful game” is played and received globally around the world. So it’s no surprise that the recent incidents surrounding racism is going to do just that… or is it just going to be “swept under the carpet”?
Judan Ali with Mike Smith, Malik Sarr, Neville Southall, Lee Mack, Arnold Schmitt, Omid Djalili & Noel Fielding.
90soccer.com exclusively speaks to Judan Ali on his take on the latest on the sensitive subject of racism in football and his aspirations for the future in the professional game.
“I don’t understand at all where this is coming from, to be honest with you I don’t understand it at all! There have been a couple of examples recently which is no good in 2012 you can’t believe it? It was obvious maybe 20 years ago and the improvements have been for everyone to see.” Sir Alex Ferguson SKY Sports & MoTD interview February 2012
Ali said “I have been involved at grass roots level to the professional game encountering face to face racism just like Patrice Evra did from Suarez and on many an occasion, both from players and managers at the time which would have been where Sir Alex mentions of 20 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir Alex didn’t himself witness racism by players and colleagues in football all those years ago when there wasn’t any laws against it and invariably people turned a blind eye to it or swept incidents of racism under the carpet”.
Ali went on to say;
“I am not surprised that Sir Alex like many other respectable figures in football wouldn’t know where racism comes from, I have close friends too, who don’t know where it comes from, because fortunately, they have never been a victim or found themselves witnessing an incident of racism in general let alone between players at the highest level in football, but as much as it has improved dramatically over the years it was more face to face then but believe you me all it takes is a glance, a mutter under the breath, collective forms of “singling out” and isolation which I too experienced goes on in football. The sad thing is, most of these incidents cannot be proved, therefore go un-reported and that is why we are seeing incidents like these very rarely surface in football where the media and cameras cannot hide this.”
In his involvement with Brit – Asian parents, Ali has found that over the years most parents have zero faith in any attempt to encourage their youngsters getting into the professional game mainly as a result of their personal experiences during the 80s and 90s.
“I would hear parents say “son, put your boots away, stick to what you know best, you will never be accepted in this country as a footballer, even if you were Maradona!”
“we have missed a huge opportunity in England for their children to break into professional football across all levels over the last 20 years and it is time we need to pass the message onto parents of talented footballers that if their youngsters have the self belief, confidence and desire, please do not give up, there is a way into football here in England.
It may not be possible to wipe out racism and prejudices in society completely, however now more than ever is the right time to put your son or daughter forward and fulfil that potential, and the same applies to anyone irrespective of race or age if you feel you have the talent to become a footballer or coach to contact your local professional football club”
The English F.A. have come a long way from the days of the racist abuse Ali and many others suffered and is actively campaigning with Kick it out, Sporting Equals, Show racism the red card and most recently with Ali to stamping racism out of the game and hopefully in sport in general, especially by recognising Ali’s achievements most recently in coaching identifying that he can be an ambassador and bridge the gap helping Brit Asians come forward as coaches and footballers. Ali is fully supportive of the English Football Association’s stances on the John Terry and Suarez incidents, however Ali is furious as to why a few managers in the Premier League are opposing the decision taken which led to the departure of Fabio Capello and is disappointed after the way that Suarez mocked the handshake with Patrice Evra.
Ali says “Sir Alex Ferguson has been “spot on” with his conclusive statement that Suarez shouldn’t play here in English Football and that we need racism to be stamped out once and for all”
Ali grew up in Tower Hamlets, London, which is surrounded and dwarfed by Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, The Gherkin Building, Tower 42 and the stock exchange with most recently the Olympic Village making powerful statements to the world that London is continuously striving from strength to strength even through the painful economic downturn. Yet it is no secret that one of the poorest areas in Europe, Tower hamlets has still got its problems of social inclusion, poverty and drugs.
Ali witnessed the City developers time and time again bulldozing recreational facilities and playing areas to make way for the commercial enterprise over the last 25 years.
Judan promoting diversity
“If the local government and the Banks recognised their social responsibilities of investing in more on their doorstep in communities then we wouldn’t be facing social problems, racism and riots. We need to recognise that the children of inner city areas not just of Tower Hamlets are the future of England and with nothing for them to relate or look forward to creates a divide, so by providing centres where children can get involved in whether it be football, other sports music and arts would make a huge difference and I hope that the government will recognise this very quickly after the Olympics this year and put it’s facilities to appropriate use serving its local communities first and foremost.”
Ali’s rational to take a country to a World Cup ranked outside the top 100 is that due to FIFA regulations and Blatters ridiculous ruling that if you aren’t in the top 70 ranked in the world, a player cannot obtain a work permit, therefore not able to play in Europe’s Elite top leagues such as the Premier League. Ali on meeting with Blatter after his Indian boys were refused contracts at 3 high profile clubs challenged this saying that;
“surely its down to the players ability and on their merit that regardless of where they are from they should be able to play in the Premier League” Blatter couldn’t give a logical response or explanation.
A determined Ali became more driven after discovering that his players came to a dead end in furthering their career as professional footballers.
Judan Ali in Africa on Charity work
Ali grew up in a diverse area of Tower Hamlets where he developed a strong bond with African, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Sri-Lankan, Afro-Caribbean and Indians, identifying that these communities were thriving with potential footballing talent across all ages.
Ali is confident from that with his coaching expertise coupled with his cultured nature, he doesn’t see any reason why he cannot take a country ranked outside the top 100 to a World Cup finals.
Despite Ali’s high ambitions, he is being realistic by not rushing into taking up offers by International teams and Clubs so he can study his International Coaching licenses funded by the English F.A.
” I aim to fulfil my goals in the coaching pathway and I am on track to take a country to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, however should the right football club present an opportunity in the meantime I will consider it. Having said that, I am not under any illusion that it will be tough and challenging, but that’s what I thrive on. I am determined and have been patient for 25 years”.
Judan Ali with Sir Trevor Brooking the F.A. Director of football Development
Lets hope that in 2012 the reaction to the racism in football is a permanent positive one and we can draw a line under this, in that it will be abolished for good.
Are we soon to witness an influx of Brit – Asians into professional football and will Ali be the first coach at a Premier League club or will he take a country to a World Cup, adding to what football if ever the sport needed right now something really and truly…. “Beautiful”