Arsenal Football Club became the first football club to receive Kick It Out’s Advanced Level of the Equality Standard in November 2011. The standard supports the development of equality and diversity practice at professional clubs in the UK.

Arsenal received the honour from football’s equality and inclusion campaign after providing detailed evidence on what it is doing to promote diversity and equality. It includes work in the community, engagement with fans and the development of Club policies and processes to create equal opportunities for all which is known under the umbrella of ‘Arsenal for Everyone’.

The award was handed over by Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out at an event at Emirates Stadium which saw number of equality and diversity groups and members of the football family come together.  Arsenal Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal and England women's captain Faye White and Arsenal supporters and individuals from the local community who are involved in some of Arsenal’s initiatives which celebrate the diversity of its fan base all spoke at the event.

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Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, said: “It is a great privilege to present the Advanced Level of the Equality Standard to Arsenal. To get this level, the Club has had to prove what it is doing, and what it is achieving, across all departments, and we are here to celebrate Arsenal’s achievement.”

Ouseley added: “What’s happening at Arsenal has been an inspiration. It is a great pleasure and a great honour to praise those who work so hard to provide football in a positive environment, and to highlight what the game can do in terms of community cohesion. This is a moment for Arsenal to be proud of, and now we want them to press on as the flagship club, and to be the leaders in promoting equality and inclusion.”

On being presented the award, Ivan Gazidis commented: “A football club is about more than just the game. I am profoundly proud to see what has been achieved here at Arsenal. It is fundamental that a football club is representative of its community, and the most visible manifestation of this is what happens on the field. We have over 20 different nationalities in our squad and this is something that reflects the multi-culturalism that is inherent in the world’s game, but also in the Islington community, and London on a broader scale.

“In the community, Arsenal is promoting and celebrating the diversity and multiculturalism of our community. I am proud of the work we are doing, but I want to also emphasise how far we still have to go to eradicate all forms of discrimination.”

Host for the day Tom Watt opened the event by saying that “football is the one thing in the world that unites people more than anything else. That notion of the game connecting people, giving them that sense of togetherness, is what football and ‘Arsenal For Everyone’ is all about.”

One of the key pillars of the Club’s work on the equality and diversity agenda has been the Arsenal for Everyone initiative. It was launched four years ago to move from an anti-racism message to a broader programme to encourage diversity throughout the Arsenal family.  It formed part of the Club’s work towards the Advanced Level of the Equality Standard and encompassed a broad range of initiatives undertaken in the community and at Emirates Stadium. This includes award-winning work to give disabled supporters an unrivalled matchday experience which includes a half-price season tickets for disabled supporters with accompanying carer, a dedicated matchday commentary service for visually impaired fans, the creation of an audio version of the matchday programme, provision of a disabled supporters lounge and the Premier League’s only guide dog toilet.

Peter Gosnell, a visually impaired Gunners fan who has been following the club since 1939, said: “It’s still a great thrill to be here and cheering the team on with 60,000 other fans. Arsenal was the first club to employ a full-time Disability Liaison Officer. We can now bring our own helpers and carers to games and that wasn’t always the case. It all helps and all these things are symbolic of not just a great team, but a great club.”

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Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Jan 2011