Asad Farooq, 25, claims club rejected his job application in favour of someone less experienced
A British Asian man is suing Liverpool Football Club, claiming it racially discriminated against him by rejecting his application for a job in favour of someone less experienced.
Asad Farooq, 25, has a degree in stadium and event management, and has worked for Tottenham Hotspur and at the Qatar World Cup, but was not invited for an interview when he applied to Liverpool in November last year for a job in administration.
The advertised role said the candidate would ideally “have experience of working in an elite sporting environment”, leading Farooq to believe he had a good chance of landing it.
However, he was subsequently told, in a message seen by the Guardian, that “the level of experience you demonstrated in your application was not as strong as the candidates that were taken forward for interview”.
After spotting that the person appointed to the role – according to their LinkedIn profile – had no football experience and just one full-time job since graduation, Farooq instructed Yunus Lunat, a lawyer who was the first Muslim to sit on the Football Association (FA) council and was ethnic minority representative on Liverpool’s official supporters’ committee.
Liverpool supporter Farooq, who lives in Birmingham, said: “As a south Asian, I’ve worked really hard to get my foot into the door and nobody seems to be giving me any opportunities.
“I’m more than capable of doing the [Liverpool] job. I’m not going to drop this, because they’re claiming that they are all about diversity, they’re claiming that they want south Asians to come into the football industry, but then they do these bad recruitment practices and don’t give us these opportunities.
“They’re talking about how they want to break down barriers but this is not breaking down barriers.”
Farooq said he has asked the club for its diversity statistics but it has refused to provide them.
The only publicly available figures are in the FA’s 2022-23 Football Leadership Diversity Code report, which sets a target of 15% of new hires in senior leadership and in team operations roles to be black, Asian or mixed-heritage. Liverpool’s results for new hires were 0% and 9% respectively, compared with 9.1% and 11.2% across all 54 signed up clubs. In interview shortlists at Liverpool, 82% had at least one male black, Asian or mixed-heritage candidate and 68% had at least one female black, Asian or mixed-heritage candidate.
Liverpool’s website says it is “striving to lead the way when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)” and the club holds the Premier League’s highest honour for EDI.
The club declined to comment on Farooq’s case while proceedings are live or to provide diversity data to the Guardian. It is anticipated that it will try to get the case thrown out at an employment tribunal hearing in March.
Lunat said when he approached Liverpool on Farooq’s behalf the club gave a different reason for rejecting his application, claiming it was because of his salary demands.
Farooq said it later emerged that the person picked for the role that he unsuccessfully applied for was only temporary and had been replaced by someone else, although they were given another job within the club.
Farooq, who also has more than 500 hours of volunteering with the FA as a team liaison officer, said: “If you’ve got an issue with diversity, how can you give somebody a position on a temporary basis when they clearly don’t meet the job description and then give them a full-time role afterwards?
“They could have come back to me and said: ‘Look, Asad, we’ve got an issue right now where this full-time employee that we’ve got coming into the club, it’s going to take a little while for him to come, this is the salary, are you willing to come for an interview?’”
Lunat, a partner at Ison Harrison in Leeds, said: “It is rare, if ever, that a real-life case will arise which can be used to emphasise that despite regular talk shops and initiatives, nothing will change unless there is transparency and a change in attitudes.
“Remember, we’ve always been told that there are no Asian footballers because Asian parents have focused on education. It seems that despite being educated and qualified, Asians do not get opportunities in sports administration.
“It is a sad indictment of the football workforce that there has been little if any improvement in its race demographics in the last 20 years and I am still churning out the same comments and statements.” https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/dec/28/british-asian-man-sues-liverpool-fc-over-racial-discrimination?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other