Leicester’s reputation as Europe’s poster city for the success of multiculturalism was on show when a large number of Indian-origin supporters of Leicester City donned blue – the club’s colour – and revelled in the upsurge of joy at its miracle win.
Starting with odds at 1 to 5,000, the club achieved a remarkable win in the English Premier League, upsetting big beasts and providing an occasion for the many communities to unite and celebrate for days and nights in a rare show of unity and multiculturalism.
Belgrave Road and Melton Road – called the ‘Golden Mile’ and the hub of Indian culture and business – turned blue as shops, restaurants and business establishments reported brisk business. Some Indian restaurants offered free snacks and meals.
Due to the city’s India links, the club has participated in events in Mumbai and Pune, and has plans to set up a football academy in Gujarat. Local business leaders hope the win will lead to increasing investor interest in the city and the region from India and China.
Mumbai-origin Jaffer Kapasi, a business leader, told Hindustan Times: “It has been a real miracle…For the first time, Indian women of Leicester from all communities watched football…It was a fight between David and Goliath”.
“This is the most diverse and most multicultural city in Europe with around 50% of the population of Indian subcontinent origin. The club has Thai owners, manager from Italy, with CEO from Ireland and players from France, Algeria, Japan, and so forth”.
Uday Dholakia, who represents Birmingham Airport, the official partner of the club, said: “The British Indian community is an integral part of Leicester’s socio-economic fabric. This is reflected in the presence of British Indians as key staff at the football club, fans and corporate sponsors”.
“The senior management at the club have made great efforts to attract active engagement of the Indian community at all levels, including promoting CSR activities in India. The English Champions title has brought India closer to Leicester, as fans in India have been following Leicester’s progress”.
Indian-origin Ather Mirza of the University of Leicester said: “I was among the thousands of euphoric City fans outside King Power stadium on Monday night shouting my adoration for Leicester at the top of my voice”.
“I was not alone. Leicester Zindabad, Jai Ho, and other shoutouts in Italian and more reflected the multicultural breadth of the jubilation. There were people in hijabs and turbans, in prayer caps and City hats, wrapped in shawls or the colours of Leicester City”.
The Indian community in Leicester includes a large number of people expelled from Idi Amin’s Uganda in the early 1970s. It has since rejuvenated local economy and is among the most integrated of non-EU origin communities in Britain.