Dundee United supporter Anish Tewari has taken matters into his own hands in the fight against racial abuse by starting anti-racism scheme Unify.
The loyal Arab, a regular at Tannadice prior to the coronavirus, set up the online platform last month to raise awareness of racism in football and wider society.
The 22-year-old has already spoken to Tangerines’ midfielder Jeando Fuchs and Hearts striker Armand Gnanduillet to learn more about their experiences of discrimination.
— UNIFY (@unifyuk_) February 24, 2021
The Dundonian, of Asian descent, was inspired to start his own cause by the Black Lives Matter movement and the global show of solidarity of taking the knee following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.
Sadly, racism isn’t alien to many in the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community in this country either and Anish was keen to use football as a vehicle for change.
‘We’re going backwards here to where we were 20 or 30 years ago when racism was quite rife’
“Last year with what went on with George Floyd in America, I think it stemmed back to that,” he said of what prompted his decision to start Unify.
“For me, there’s been quite a big incline in racism, whether it be on social media, online or at the football itself.
“Recently you’ve seen Marcus Rashford and Yan Dhanda at Swansea suffer racist abuse. They’re in the same kind of age bracket as me so it does hit you. It hurts to see stuff like that.
“There’s younger people, maybe at school, who look up to these players and want to be like them.
“They can be quite effected by that and we’re going backwards here to where we were 20 or 30 years ago when racism was quite rife.
“Being Asian myself, I wanted to make a stand against it and help the cause to stamp it out.
“Hopefully, it can be a good thing going forward.”
The fight against racism is about more than just football for Anish
Anish – who has supported the Terrors since attending the 2008 League Cup Final defeat to Rangers alongside his dad Anil – has already made good progress and has plans to fight against racism on more fronts than just sport.
Ever the fan, however, he does admit working with his beloved-Tangerines would be the dream gig.
“It’s been great and gone better than anticipated,” he added.
“Once I interviewed Armand Gnanduillet at Hearts it really took off and then I spoke to Jeando Fuchs from Dundee United.
“It was quite a big hit with United fans as well and I’ve quite a lot of interest from fans of other clubs like Dundee, Arsenal and Manchester United endorsing it as well.
“Show Racism the Red Card have backed me as well so that’s been a positive thing. I’m hoping that can help me reach out and expand.
“That’s the plan going forward.
“Joe Rice (Dundee United’s head of media) was excellent with me and granted permission straightaway. Jeando answered the questions well, even if it was off Google Translate!
“I appreciate it because he took his time out and was professional the whole way through.
“I hope to broaden it, whether it be clubs in Scotland, England and, after that, who knows how far it might go? It could go to Europe, you never know.
“I hope to interview other people as well, whether that be in music, politics or other areas of society where racism might effect people as well.
“I’ve got a few bits up my sleeve.
“I want to work with sports organisations to promote diversity-inclusion and, personally, I’d hope to be involved with Dundee United so as well to, hopefully, do that within my own club.”
BAME youngsters need more people to look up to
Anish, who lives in Panmurefield Village, has experienced racism first hand and believes more must be done to tackle the problem early in the form of education and the encouragement of role models in football and society.
He commented: “Personally, when I was young and at school, I maybe had the odd reference to my skin colour.
“I was upset at the time but when I look back at it the people who did it to you were young as well so they maybe weren’t educated enough on that.
“You can kind of accept it now but that’s what I hope to do, maybe liaise with companies to improve that through education with kids in school.
“Luckily, I’ve never actually witnessed it at the football but it’s a big part of my life and nothing would ever stop that.
“I think more could be done to draft BAME players and managers in.
“I think the English FA have an inclusion officer but in Scotland you don’t really see people of that background in those higher roles in the SFA.
“That’s something they maybe need to look at. Having someone from that background there, they’ll know what needs to be done to battle racism better.
“Fans would then have someone to look up to and listen to and respect.”
He continued: “Sports authorities need to promote anti-racism more, whether that’s online or in stadiums, just to get the word out there.
“Diversity-inclusion courses should be applied to all schools as well and I think pupils would benefit from that moving into the future.
“Organisations should be highlighting how racism can impact peoples’ lives and their mental health.
“An education programme should be compulsory within all workforces and for all the people that commit these offences as well because, if you have that, people can learn from their mistakes.”