Arsenal to wear special all-white kit for FA Cup tie in stand against teen violence

The north London club’s players will wear the special jerseys for Sunday’s FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest

Rob Harris
Friday 07 January 2022 20:46
Idris Elba backs Arsenal campaign against teen violence

Arsenal will wear special all-white shirts this weekend as the Premier League club takes a stand against youth violence in London.

The stabbing of a 16-year-old boy at the end of last year was the 30th teenage murder in 2021 and came just as Arsenal was preparing to roll out its “No More Red” campaign.

The north London club's players will wear all-white Adidas jerseys – drained of the club’s traditional red colors – for Sunday’s FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest.

“The white shirt is a symbol that can stand against knife crime,” said Jack Ironside, who has worked on Arsenal's schemes in London communities for 15 years. “It’s devastating for individuals, it’s devastating for families and devastating for the communities that they live in.

“That trauma is lived by their friends and their families that live on. But what we’ve got an opportunity to do here is raise awareness and look at solutions – not answers. We don’t have the answer but positive contributions.”

The one-off kits will not be sold anywhere. Only those worn by the starting 10 outfield players in Sunday's match will be released as gifts to community organisations working to tackle the causes of youth violence which mostly involves knife crimes.

As a senior manager for social inclusion, Ironside’s work with Arsenal involves collaborating with youth offending services and prisons, trying to help young people find alternative pathways through a career rather than resorting to violence.

“Our priorities are social outcomes rather than sports outcomes,” Ironside said. “What we’re trying to do with this campaign is really try to raise awareness and create awareness around this important issue and then make some tangible differences.”

Arsenal will wear special white shirts in a stand against teen violence

Those include offering hope to youngsters, particularly in more deprived parts of the capital, and renovating footballing facilities they can use.

“Those are much more than football pitches,” Ironside said. “They are actually safe spaces for young people to spend their time and connect with others and spend time with positive role models.

“What we are trying to do there is actually work with young people off the pitch rather than on it. So that the pitch itself and that football activity is the tool to engage. But it's actually how we support them away from that football pitch that really matters.”

A campaign video features the actor Idris Elba, who grew up in east London and has his own “Don't Stab Your Future” initiative.

“From the time young people leave school, until the time they’re at home with family, there is often a void, a dangerous spike of nothing to do, where nothing can easily turn to something dangerous,” Elba said in a statement.

“If there continues to be no options for this after-school period, we will always see gangs form. Let's create options for these young people.”

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