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Archives for : football

Mumbra’s Muslim Girls Kick Out Stereotypes #Womenrights


Kamayani Bali Mahabal 


They started off as a secret sports club. What brought them together was their shared love for football, a game they couldn’t dream of playing owing to their conservative family backgrounds. After all, how could young girls, who weren’t even allowed to step out of their homes without the ‘hijab’ (veil), run around kicking ball in an open field? But they showed exceptional courage when they defied parental dictate to pursue their passion for the sport.

Three years back, Sabah Khan, Salma Ansari, Sabah Parveen, Aquila, Saadia and 40 other girls got out of their homes in Mumbra, a small town 40 kilometres from Mumbai, Maharashtra, to play football. Today, this group that calls itself Parcham, inspired by Asrar ul Haq Majaz, an Urdu poet who saw women as crusaders with an inherent quality to revolt against exploitation and injustice, has truly lived up to its name. They have not only broken gender stereotypes by regularly playing football but have been responsible for bridging the gap between the Muslims and the Hindus in their communally volatile city.

Sabah Khan, the captain of this unique all–girls team, recalls how their journey of change began, “Around 2011, a bunch of us were approached by the NGO Magic Bus that uses sports as a means to help poor children lead a better life. They wanted to teach football to both girls and boys but we told them that in Mumbra Muslim girls cannot take up a sport let alone play alongside boys. That’s when they decided to exclusively train girls who were keen to try out something they had only dreamt of.”

The target was to put together a group of 40 girls but that was easier said than done. “Most of us hail from families that struggle to make ends meet. We can never really spare time for fun and games. We study, chip in at home or work. That’s why we were unable to personally go to motivate girls to join in.


At the outset, the girls decided to call their team ‘Parcham’. Aquila, one of the founding members, narrates the story behind it, “We decided to call ourselves ‘Parcham’ as we are inspired by Asrar ul Haq Majaz, better known as Majaz Lakhnawi. Through his romantic, revolutionary verses, Majaz urged women to look at the hijab not as a barrier but as a flag or banner. He has written: ‘Tere maathe pe ye aanchal bauhat hi khoob hai, lekin tu is aanchal se ik parcham bana leti to achcha tha… (The veil covering your head and face is beautiful, but if you make a flag out of it, it would be better)’. We, too, have transformed something that many see as a sign of repression into a symbol of revolution.”

Through sports Parcham strives to build a just and equal society that is respectful of diversity and celebrates difference and interdependence. Their mission is to empower marginalised communities to access their fundamental rights, creating spaces for dialogue among diverse sections of society. “And our one great achievement has been getting official recognition for our struggle to get a playground for the girls,” says Aquila.

When they met with MLA Jeetendra Awhad he was amazed to see this strength of association. He told them that it was perhaps for the first time that 900 girls had got together to ask for a playground to be reserved for them. He also assured them of their very own space to play.

Saadia’s brothers still have no inkling. “After I won a trophy at a tournament I told them that it was a friend’s. There are many like me who cannot yet be completely honest with all their family members. We don’t want to make them unhappy nor do we want our freedom curtailed. This way we all get what we want,” she says.

Adds Salma Ansari, 22, who has supportive parents and is pursuing an MBA degree, “What we need is for the society to accept that girls have an equal right to public spaces; that they too deserve to experience the joy of being able to run free, kick a ball, hold a bat, sprint, jump or swim. Nowadays, we are trying to break gender stereotypes by training a group of 50 young boys and girls together.” The religious divide, too, has been overcome with the inclusion of girls from other faiths.

Simran, 15, the youngest member of the team, is a Sikh. “We have so many misconceptions about other religions. But perceptions and attitudes change when we meet and interact. Being in Parcham, I am learning about gender, equality, justice… Watch out, I am a feminist in the making!” she says emphatically.

What’s next on Parcham’s agenda? “We want to set up a resource centre for our girls, complete with books, newspapers, computers and a wi–fi network. Every Saturday, we plan to hold meetings where we can discuss the latest news and concepts like secularism and citizenship to enable everyone to think and form opinions on subjects they are passionate about. The centre will be a safe haven for Muslims and non–Muslims to build friendships,” says Sabah.

In the home town of Ishrat Jahan, the young woman who was tragically shot in an encounter in Ahmedabad in 2004, these girls are gearing up to drive out prejudice and hatred. (WFS)

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Football and cricket most susceptible to money laundering

VIVEK SHARMA | 02/04/2014 12:38 PM |   

Sports is an area, which experiences continuous flow of money from different sources and has been able to survive and grow even during times of difficulties. No wonder cash rich sports like football, tennis, cricket and boxing are most susceptible for money laundering

Money launderers keep on finding new avenues to launder money. Whatever be the means of launder money, it is very obvious that money laundering is done in those areas where flow of money is large, frequent and not so well defined. One of the most susceptible areas for money laundering activity has been sports. This is one such area, which experiences continuous flow of money from different sources and has been able to survive and grow even during times of difficulties. Some of the sports which have seen huge money flow are football, tennis, cricket, boxing etc.


Financial Action Task Force (FATF) analysis of sports as a target avenue for money laundering gets manifested in the following statement , “Sports that could be vulnerable to money laundering problems are either big sports (worldwide like football or on a national basis like cricket, basketball or ice hockey), sports like boxing, kick boxing and wrestling (sports that have traditionally links with the criminal milieu because of the relationship between crime and violence), high value sports (such as horse and car racing where there are ample opportunities to launder big sums of money), sports using (high value) transfer of players, sports where there is much cash around, which give criminals opportunities to turn cash into non-cash assets or to convert small into large bills”.


While many sports are vulnerable to money laundering, nothing can beat football in money laundering activities. Some recent international experiences show how money laundering has become home for money laundering. Carson Yeung Ka-sing, a Hong Kong tycoon and owner of British soccer club Birmingham City, was jailed in March for six years on charges of laundering HK$721 million ($93 million). Similarly in Bucharest, Romania a court handed prison sentences to eight Romanian football officials for tax evasion and money laundering in connection with the transfer of 12 players. There was a loss of 1.7 million Euros to the state because of the activities related to money laundering and tax evasion.


So what makes football such a fertile avenue for money laundering? The first and the most important aspect is, of course, huge flow of money that this sport gets every year. Some interesting data point in this regard provides evidence to this. During 2011-12, the European football market grew to €19.4 billion (up 11%), of which the ‘big five’ leagues had a market share of 48% (€9.3 billion). In particular, the top end of the game showed resilience in the face of wider economic challenges in Europe.


Top division clubs’ revenues in 2011-12

Source: Deloitte


As per a study done by Deloitte, “In 2011-12 the total revenues of the 92 clubs in the top four divisions of English football exceeded £3 billion for the first time. Within the Premier League total of £2,360m for 2011/12, Premier League clubs’ revenues ranged from £320m (Manchester United) to £53m (Wigan Athletic). There were six Premier League clubs with revenue above the average (£118m), including the four clubs that competed in the UEFA Champions League in 2011/12. Champions League football generated at least £30m extra revenue per club, and around £70m for Chelsea who won the competition”.


All data points above show that there is a huge inflow of money in football making which it a fertile ground for money laundering.


While money indeed plays an important role in promoting money laundering in football, it is not just the only factor. There are some other interesting factors, which contribute in making football vulnerable to money laundering which can be described as follows:

  • • The network of the stakeholders in the football sector is very complicated which makes money laundering easier.
  • • There is a lack of professionalism on part of the management barring exception of the some of the top leagues.
  • • Despite the tremendous growth of the industry as a whole, many football clubs are financially in bad shape and their financial trouble could urge football clubs to accept funds from dubious parties.
  • • Football sector involves large sums and this exposes the entire sector to money laundering risks.
  • • Some players are socially vulnerable, especially the young players. This exposes them to the risks of money laundering.


As per FATF, an investment in a football club can provide the criminal, the “favoured status”. “In most cases investments in football clubs are characterised by a high degree of uncertainty over future results. However there are strong non-material rewards for wealthy individuals who invest in football clubs or players,” it added.
While efforts are on at the global level to reduce instances of money laundering in football, it won’t be incorrect to say that there is huge amount of money, which has been laundered into the sector. In the days to come, more instances of money laundering may come out in open in this sport.


(Vivek Sharma has worked for 17 years in the stock market, debt market and banking. He is a post graduate in Economics and MBA in Finance. He writes on personal finance and economics and is invited as an expert on personal finance shows.)

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Upper Caste, Upper Class Blinkered Media Visions Deny India this Moment of Glory #Vaw


She says she remembered the days she was slapped and made to sweep floors
when she went to the Panchayat Office get birth certificates for her
passport. “That is the pain of being a tribal girl in India. I do not remember the
slap, I remember the Cup,” says Rinky.
?Few days back, as a billion plus India slept, a handful of tribal girls
proudly held aloft a trophy they won in their maiden entry in a football
tournament in far-flung Spain.

It was the night of July 13. Hundreds of fire crackers lit the skies as the
girls screamed Vande Mataram – their battle cry – for being placed third in
the Gasteiz Cup, the world’s best testing ground for teenager football in
Victoria Gastiez, also popular as Europe’s Green Capital.

They were the same girls who were slapped, kicked and made to sweep floors
by arrogant bureaucrats in Jharkhand when the girls asked for birth
certificates, a necessity to apply for passports.

But they eventually managed their passports, thanks to a strapping American,
Franz Gastler, who pushed the cases of the girls with mandarins of the
Ministry of External Affairs in the Indian Capital. He was a lone ranger in his efforts.

The girls were lovingly titled the Supergoats by the organizers in Spain the
moment they saw the girls playing barefoot in practice matches on arrival.
The girls had limited football gear and could not take the risk of tampering
with it before the tournament. They were overawed by international teams in
the first tournament, the Donosti Cup, but came to their own in the second

Offering a consolation prize for the third team – winner of a match between
losing semi-finalists – was a mere formality for the organizers.

But for the girls, it was a giant leap into global soccer from their
impoverished Rukka village near Ranchi, considered one of the world’s
epicenters of child marriage and human trafficking.

As soon as the announcement was made for the prize distribution ceremony,
the girls rushed into their dressing room and returned, some barefoot,
wearing red-bordered white saris, their traditional festive dress. Many had
their plastic flowers in their hairs.

And when they huddled together after the mandatory photo session, some wept
inconsolably because they had almost given up their hopes to participate in
this tournament. “They were over the moon. It was their night,” said Gastler of the girls, who subsist on less than a dollar a day.

For a country low on soccer, this was – arguably – good news for the
mandarins of the game. But no one cared. All India Football Federation
(AIFF) president Praful Patel was not aware of the girls’ superlative
achievement, nor was the country’s new sports minister Jitendra Singh.

“We could not sleep that night (July 13),” says Rinky Kumari, 13, captain,
Supergoats. Once she bunked her school helped her mother do household
chores. Today, thanks to football, everyone knows her name in the village.

She says she remembered the days she was slapped and made to sweep floors
when she went to the Panchayat Office get birth certificates for her
passport. “That is the pain of being a tribal girl in India. I do not remember the
slap, I remember the Cup,” says Rinky.
For her, and her teammates, it means a lot.

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