Arsenal have gone through their ups and downs as a club in the last few decades, but have maintained their stance as a club with its values and ethics. Even though the owners and upper-management people have endured extreme fan backlash in recent years, they’ve worked to ensure that the Gunners aren’t only successful on the pitch – but also respected outside it.
Indeed, Arsenal have been leading in campaigns to reduce the amount of discrimination or racism suffered by their players – be it on social media or during matches themselves. Bukayo Saka, for one, has been a victim of widespread abuse and racism ever since missing a penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.
At that time, the Gunners showcased an admirable effort to support Saka during his time of crisis and launch anti-racism methods that also encouraged fan participation. Arsenal have been working through the last few years to single out and discover those taking part in discrimination – be it towards their players or opponents.
The Gunners recently announced that they’ve handed bans to 31 fans for abusive or discriminatory behaviour. This included 18 fans who have been handed bans for their behaviour on social media and 13 during Arsenal matches at the Emirates Stadium.
The fans have been given three-year bans, meaning they can’t attend a home or away game during that period. This has been done to reiterate that any kind of racism, abuse or discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated at the club.
The Gunners have even outlined the reason for these bans, punishing fans for giving death threats to players as well as racism, antisemitism and homophobia. Arsenal caught the abusers on social media thanks to their partnership with the Signify Group, which monitored their social media accounts to weed out discriminators.
Arsenal have also permanently blocked frequent abuses in their social media channels and reported them to the authorities. However, the North London club believes in second chances for the abusers and is going to give them a chance to reduce their ban sentence.
Those fans who want to reduce their sentences will have to attend a one-on-one educational programme with the anti-racism group ‘Kick It Out’. The individuals who go through the process will need to discuss the impact of their abusive behaviour towards others and show a real determination to change their mindset going forward.
If able to convince the club about their chances, then their three-year stadium ban could be reduced by Arsenal. The Gunners have vowed to keep their anti-discrimination and abuse drive going and will also support their supporters groups for celebrating the diverse communities of the club’s supporters.
Arsenal’s efforts to bring the hammer down on the abusers and racists – be it on social media or those attending games – can be an exemplary step for other Premier League clubs. While the majority of the clubs in the league are all supportive of the ‘Kick it Out’ and ‘No Room for Racism’ schemes, they hardly do much to punish the supporters abusing their players.
Last year, it was revealed that Manchester United players are some of the most-ones abused ones on social media – and mostly by their own fans. However, the club has hardly shown determination to do something like Arsenal to weed out the abusive fans and deliver strict punishments to them.
Not only are the Gunners leading the way as one of the Premier League’s top clubs, but are also leading from the front in their efforts to ensure that fans know discrimination towards players in any form can lead to severe consequences.