Ex football boss sets up fans club to increase diversity at England games
- Credit: Tim Edwards
A former football manager has started a supporters club to encourage more diversity at England matches.
Cranbrook man Imrul Gazi, who used to manage Sporting Bengal football club in Mile End, has set up Amar England with friend Humayun Islam.
Imrul felt stadiums need to be representative of today's society.
"The typical football supporter on match day will go to the pub, have a drink before a game, can be a bit tipsy, screaming.
"But not everyone wants that, people might be from different cultures or religions.”
Imrul and Humayun have set up the club with the help of Football Supporters’ Association’s Anwar Uddin.
Anwar was the first person of Bangladeshi origin to play professional football in England and is heavily involved with supporters’ clubs across England.
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Imrul said: “We’ve seen local football supporters’ clubs popping up all over the UK and it has encouraged more people to attend local matches.
"You’re now seeing more Asian faces, more families, more kids. We thought ‘why can’t we do that with the England games?’"
He emphasised the importance of including children in Amar England and is planning a tour of Wembley Stadium with a group of kids in order to be more inclusive to younger audiences.
As a child, he was raised two streets away from a football ground and said: “Growing up, I put racism, hooliganism and football together.
"On match day, if kick off was at three, my parents would say ‘make sure you’re back by two’ because they had experienced such bad racism, instances of hate crime, racial abuse.
“Those days of hooliganism and racism are changing.”
Members of Amar England will meet up before World Cup matches, go for food beforehand and discuss the football in order to make supporters of all ages and ethnic backgrounds feel comfortable at games.
A launch event will take place towards the end of March in Redbridge.
This will mainly be a networking event, but will also include a question and answer session and Imrul hopes to include an England international footballer on the panel.