All Premier League matches taking place this weekend will be dedicated to No Room For Racism, as together with the league and clubs, we continue to urge fans to challenge and report discriminatory behaviour wherever they see it.
Supporters at Emirates Stadium are urged to report any form of discrimination and abuse by texting 67777 with their block, row and seat number. In March this year, we also outlined our #StopOnlineAbuse action plan to ensure we are fulfilling our responsibility to protect our players and our diverse global family.
We also have a long history of anti-racism work in the local area, collaborating with community groups and local schools. We are committed to not just being against racism but to become a proactive anti-racist organisation. Two years ago, we set up an internal advisory group which comprises a representation of Arsenal staff members from several departments across the club. The group focussed on race equality which developed a programme of activity called ‘What Can I Do?’.
There are three main principles to What Can I Do? These principles are:
• To Listen
• To Educate
• To Act
Over the past year, Arsenal in the Community has delivered a series of workshops with young people in the local community as part of our schemes on local estates and in schools to encourage them to talk about and discuss racism and to find solutions on a local level to racial inequality.
Alongside this, there have been a series of other workshops with young people to give them an opportunity to express how they are feeling on topics such as Black Lives Matter, players taking the knee and the online abuse faced by England players, including Bukayo Saka, after Euro 2020. One of the priorities of Arsenal in the Community is to give young people a voice, so we also set up a discussion between young people from our community projects and senior police officers, including the Borough Commander in Islington, about stop and search.
Anti-racism was the feature of an all staff call recently with our CEO Vinai Venkatesham, our head of academy Per Mertesaker and our equalities manager Eleanor Sherry who joined Piara Powar, director of football against racism in Europe for a discussion on what we can do as a club to be anti-racist.
As well as working with our local community, we have also developed an internal training module related to What Can I Do? The workshop is focused on action and how our staff can be anti-racist. The workshop has so far been delivered to Arsenal in the Community staff, our IT Department and the Arsenal Academy. This is not intended to be a one-off workshop but the beginning of a culture change within the club.
Our community development officer, Samir Singh, said: “Discrimination and abuse are a stain on our game, but it’s been great to see colleagues from across the club coming together to tackle this important issue. With our collective power, support from our fans and the wider football community we can make a difference.
"It’s important we continue to ask ourselves, how can we do better? We must listen and be prepared to learn, and we must ensure we take meaningful action. We know our work is far from over, but we move forward focussed and undeterred in our fight against all forms of discrimination.”
Copyright 2021 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.