Home Sports South Asians in Football: Former EFL referee Jarnail Singh to take charge of Sporting Khalsa vs Punjab United | Football News

South Asians in Football: Former EFL referee Jarnail Singh to take charge of Sporting Khalsa vs Punjab United | Football News

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South Asians in Football: Former EFL referee Jarnail Singh to take charge of Sporting Khalsa vs Punjab United | Football News

Trailblazer Jarnail Singh will referee Sporting Khalsa’s match with Punjab United to kick-off the South Asian Heritage Month celebrations early.

Sky Sports News last month revealed Khalsa, who are the most successful team to come out of Britain’s South Asian community, were hosting last season’s Kent Senior Trophy winners Punjab United in a pre-season friendly.

Both teams are owned by British South Asians, and the match takes place on July 14, four days before the start of South Asian Heritage Month, with a whole programme of activity planned.

Jarnail grew up a stone’s throw away from Sporting Khalsa’s ground in nearby Wolverhampton. He will be part of a South Asian officiating crew for the fixture, alongside Ajay Sharma and Punjabi Rams member and fellow official Genie Hayer, with the aim of showcasing ethnically diverse talent and highlighting pathways into the game.

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Sky Sports News spoke to Jarnail’s sons Bhupinder and Sunny Singh Gill in the morning, hours before they made English Football League history together by officiating in the same Championship game

Jarnail is the first turbaned referee in the history of English league football and took charge of more than 150 games across the divisions between 2004 and 2010.

He retired from league officiating in 2011, but still officiates at the summer Khalsa Football Federation tournaments and occasionally referees in the Combined Counties League.

Sky Sports News understands discussions between Sporting Khalsa and Punjab United about playing a celebratory friendly ahead of the new season advanced during a recent FA faith and football event, which also saw a first-of-its-kind timeline and display documenting the history of South Asian heritage female players go on display at the home of English football.

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Sporting Khalsa were founded in 1991 and play in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division in the eighth tier of English football.

Punjab United play in the Premier Division of the Southern Counties East Football League, and enjoyed a fairytale end to last season by lifting the Kent Senior Trophy for the first time in their history.

Season to remember for Singh

Jarnail started the season watching his eldest son Sunny Singh Gill follow in his footsteps and become the first league referee from a South Asian background to take charge of an EFL game since Jarnail himself more than a decade ago.

In January, Jarnail saw his younger son Bhupinder Singh Gill become the first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee in Premier League history when he was part of the refereeing quartet for the match between Southampton and Nottingham Forest at the turn of the year.

Shortly after that game, Sky Sports and former referee Jarnail raised concerns directly to the Football Association about an incident during a Spartan South Midlands League game that saw a Sikh-Punjabi footballer have his patka (a religious head covering often worn by Sikhs) pulled by an opposing player.

Just over a fortnight after initiating contact with refereeing authorities about the matter, Sky Sports News exclusively revealed match officials across the country were issued with specific guidance relating to such incidents, including a directive to make such offences punishable by an automatic red card.

The matter was also referred to world football’s lawmakers IFAB (International Football Association Board). Jarnail stepped down from his role as an EFL match assessor at the end of last season but remains involved in the game as an ambassador and a consultant, with a primary focus on widening the talent pool of match officials.

Team of the Season to go on show

Team of the Season

A first-of-its-kind South Asians in Football Team of the Season will also go on show at Sporting Khalsa at an event ahead of the game, supported by both clubs, the Football Association and Three Lions.

More than 200 free match tickets that were made available to the community have been snapped up, with a host of current and former players from South Asian backgrounds pencilled in to attend, alongside fans’ groups from across the Midlands.

Tickets will also be available right up until 7.45pm kick-off, with Sporting Khalsa expecting a bumper crowd at the Guardian Warehousing Arena for Friday’s visit of Gravesend-based Punjab United.

Derby County Women trailblazer Kira Rai appears in the Team of the Season and will feature in a pre-match presentation, alongside Sky Sports News journalist FA Level 2 scout Dev Trehan and Desi Ballers founder Zohaib Rashid, who created the Team of the Season together.

A packed programme of events will also see a host of culinary delights on offer, as well as traditional Punjabi drummers performing, and a half-time show with a difference.

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

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