The latest edition of South Asians in Football Weekly is out after another fantastic week for the community in the Beautiful Game…
Sunny Singh Gill presided over a second-tier match for the first time on Saturday as he became the first South Asian heritage referee to take charge of a Championship match since his father Jarnail Singh.
Jarnail was the first turbaned referee in the history of English League football and took charge of 200 EFL games across the divisions between 2004 and 2010, before retiring in 2011.
Sikh-Punjabi referee Singh Gill took charge of Huddersfield’s 0-0 draw with Watford in front of a crowd of more than 18,000 people at the John Smith’s Stadium, drawing compliments on an assured display as the man in the middle.
His father Jarnail told Sky Sports News: “He handled the occasion, did what he had to do and acquitted himself very well. There will be more opportunities for him to referee in the Championship and continue to progress.
“I’m very proud of my sons Sunny and Bhupinder – and they are great role models, who provide much-needed representation in the elite game in the same way that the likes of [ethnically diverse match officials] Sam Allison, Damith Bandara and Akil Howson do as well.”
Sunny and younger brother Bhupinder, who is an assistant referee, made another slice of history last month after presiding over the first-ever England Euro Elite League game on home soil.
Sky Sports News exclusively revealed in the summer of 2022 that Sunny had followed in his father’s footsteps and been promoted to the EFL National Group of match referees, before breaking the story at the turn of the year that Bhupinder would be the first Sikh assistant referee in Premier League history.
Bhatia steps down as QPR chairman
Amit Bhatia has stepped down as QPR chairman after five years in the role.
Bhatia, who has been involved with the club for more than 16 seasons, will still remain on the board alongside the club’s other shareholders.
As part of their ongoing commitment, the Bhatia family have entered into an additional three-year commercial agreement that sees the South Africa Road Stand at the club’s stadium renamed The Bhatia Stand.
“While I am stepping down from the role of chairman, my family and I remain as passionate about QPR as we have ever been and will continue to attend matches as often as is possible, as well as support the club to the best of our ability,” Bhatia said.
“QPR is so special to my entire family and we are hugely honoured to work with the club for the renaming of the South Africa Road Stand. Sponsorships are an important revenue stream for all football clubs and this partnership allows us as a family to contribute further to the club.
“I thank our fans for their continued support.”
Markanday makes London return
The winger was roared on by dozens of friends of family in the away end on his return to London, and went close to scoring with a rasping effort from 25 yards in the first half that flashed just wide of Robert Sanchez’s left-hand post.
Markanday became the first British South Asian ever to play for Tottenham Hotspur when he featured in a Europa Conference League game away at Vitesse Arnhem.
Millie Chandarana, meanwhile, was in action for Blackburn Rovers in the Barclays Women’s Championship at the weekend. Chandarana maintained her ever-present record for Rovers this season by coming off the bench in the clash with London City Lionesses.
Kayani to join Khan for Pakistan
Elsewhere, Cardiff City loanee Rohan Luthra helped Slough Town earn a 1-1 draw against League Two Grimsby Two. Fellow British South Asian Otis Khan was an unused substitute for the Mariners.
Khan will soon have a new team-mate at international level after the Pakistan Football Federation announced that Imran Kayani had linked up with the national team camp and will be part of the squad for their second round of World Cup qualifiers, kicking off later this month.
Pakistan won a World Cup qualifier for the first time in their history – and at the 34th attempt – when they beat Cambodia 1-0 on aggregate last month, with former QPR youngster Harun Hamid ethching his name into folklore with the all-important winner in the second leg.
The Shaheens are now through to the group stages in the second round of World Cup qualifying, and host Tajikstan at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad on November 21.
Khan and Stoke honour Asian trailblazer Soo
The Lord Mayor of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Majid Khan officially appointed Frank Soo to the Stoke-on-Trent Hall of Fame on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the football trailblazer’s debut for Stoke City.
Khan presided over a civic ceremony that was attended by guests including Stoke City legends George Berry, Dennis Smith and John Ruggiero after Sky Sports News revealed East Asian football trailblazer Soo was going to be posthumously honoured by the city.
Derbyshire-born Soo is a Stoke City legend, who made more than 250 appearances for the club, and was a former team-mate and captain of Sir Stanley Matthews.
Soo, whose father was Chinese, also became the first player of Asian heritage to represent England when he appeared in a wartime international against Wales in 1942.
Frank’s great niece, Jacqui Soo, was guest of honour at the ceremony and joined Khan to conduct the unveiling before receiving a certificate and a gift on behalf of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
Soo, who is the first East Asian to play English league football, also played for Leicester City, Luton Town, Chelmsford City and Prescott Cables – before enjoying a successful managerial career which took him as far afield as Scandinavia.
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