This is a piece I didn’t want to write, I really didn’t. I didn’t want to go over the clichés of racism ‘rearing it’s ugly head’ in football.
I didn’t want to look at the tribalism that still exists in football and I really didn’t want to talk about some of the abuse I see directed at some of our fellow Arsenal fans on social media for being from a different race/religion/sexual orientation/gender etc to the person abusing them. I have had enough of it all!
Further, the idea of abusing a player, from our own club – not that it makes a difference - based on their personal background is just something I struggle to get my head around while acknowledging it is just all too common (yes we are in 2021).
In this case I am referring to Granit Xhaka, who was, according to research by a company called Signify, the victim of 16 examples of racist abuse towards him with instances of homophobic abuse also directed towards Hector Bellerin in December 2020.
Some of this abuse was alleged to have come from social media accounts where the users identified themselves (in their bios I am guessing) as Arsenal season ticket holders.
As I write this I have now heard Eddie Nketiah is now also subject of racist abuse too.
The club said it is working to identify them and ban them from the club.
That isn’t really a topic for discussion, of course they should.
I am dismayed, ashamed and shocked (yet in no way surprised) to find this within my club’s ST holders.
I have always thought of it as a privilege to be an Arsenal fan, living in one of the most diverse cities in the world and being lucky enough to be a season ticket holder too.
I love going to games with people of every race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation.
You can find people from all walks of life at the Arsenal and it is what makes our club great.
So what can we do?
Well our club motto is ‘Victory through Harmony’, so let us all get together to rid ourselves of these merchants of hatred with a united core of Arsenal fans against racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic or any other type of abuser pedalling their hatred online.
Let’s call them out, report them (where relevant to the club too) and block them, taking away their platform.
Let’s put more pressure on the social media companies and broadcasters to help stop this stuff polluting out timelines and channels and celebrate our diversity as Arsenal fans whenever the opportunity arises.
It may always feel like an uphill battle but we can certainly be the ones to take the battle to them, we can also make a point of supporting the victims of this disgusting behavior towards, fans, players, staff (I’ve even seen the club photographer getting abused).
Our collective Arsenal fan online presence is huge and that gives us the power to make a difference.
So let’s do it!