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PFA report shows increased South Asian representation in football

Layth Gulzar, Riz Rehman and Zidane Iqbal
  • The PFA's Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme (AIMS) includes a data-driven approach to help increase South Asian representation in football.
  • Year two data shows more South Asian players making league debuts and increased diversity in the Academy system.

The PFA is pleased to announce the progress made during year two (2021/22 season) of its five-year strategy to increase South Asian representation within professional football.

As part of the strategy, the PFA has released data that provides a comprehensive overview of South Asian male players at all levels of the elite system, which helps set a baseline for future progress. 


Based on data updated to 31st March 2023 and covering clubs in the Premier League and English Football Leagues for the 2022/23 season, the PFA reported the following insights:

  • 12.6% increase in players at all levels of elite football identifying themselves of South Asian heritage, with 134 players in 2022/23 compared to 119 players in 2021/22.
  • 63% of academies have at least one player of South Asian heritage, compared to 53% in 2021/22.
  • 53% of the South Asian professional players are signed to Premier League and Championship clubs.
  • 1.45% of scholars are of South Asian heritage, with total South Asian scholar numbers increasing by almost 9% from the 2021/22 season.
  • 0.91% of players in the Football Development and Youth Development Phases are of South Asian heritage, compared to 0.82% in 2021/22.
  • There have been six league debuts for players of South Asian heritage between 2022 and 2023, compared to two league debuts between 2018 and 2021, showing a positive increase.

PFA's Player Inclusion Executive, Riz Rehman, said: "The positive progress shown in the data is a testament to the collective efforts of clubs, stakeholders, and the PFA's commitment to driving change and increasing representation in the sport. When we first started collating the data, we knew it would take time to see increases in the playing numbers, so I am delighted to see growth and positive momentum that we have created.

"The increase of academies with players in their ranks is also very encouraging and demonstrates their commitment to seeking talent from the UK’s South Asian community. We are working closely with more clubs to leverage AIMS and also to boost the representation.

"One of the most telling and motivating figures is the increase of players making league debuts in the last 12 months. These success stories help drive us all forward, and we look forward to seeing more in the future."

The PFA's five-year strategy, which includes capturing and maintaining data, as well as initiatives such as the mentoring scheme and regular events, aims to create more opportunities and promote diversity and inclusion in football, particularly for South Asian players.

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