Arsenal break silence over all-white squad team photo after race row

Arsenal break silence over all-white squad team photo after race row as they accept their women’s team ‘does not reflect the diversity that exists across the club’

  • A race row broke out over Arsenal Women’s team photo earlier this month
  • The north London side have now issued a statement about their core values
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Coming Up!’ 

Arsenal have broken their silence on fan criticism that their women’s first team does not feature a single player of colour, claiming that addressing the lack of diversity is a ‘priority’. 

The 27-player team photo went viral online, soon amassing more than four million views, as fans criticised the ‘shocking’ and ‘concerning’ absence of any players of colour. 

Arsenal were approached by Mail Sport following the row over the photo but they did not respond. 

But they have now gone on record to address supporters’ concerns.

‘We acknowledge our current women’s first-team squad does not reflect the diversity that exists across the club and the communities we represent,’ Arsenal said in a statement to The Athletic.

Arsenal Women’s squad photo for the 2023-24 season went viral over the lack of diversity

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‘Increasing participation among young women and girls from diverse backgrounds is a key priority for us at academy level, with specific measures in place to improve pathways and accessibility.’ 

The statement added: ‘Across all our teams, including our men’s and women’s academies, we’re proud of our players from diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our history, success and culture. 

‘It’s a priority for the club to continue to drive greater diversity and inclusion and create a sense of belonging for everyone connected to the club.’

Unimpressed Arsenal fans took to X – formerly Twitter – to criticise the lack of diversity and players of colour in their latest squad. 

One user wrote: ‘No professional team, mens or womens, should be able to have a team the comprises of all white players in 2023.’

Arsenal soon came in for heavy criticism but they have now broken their silence and have said that redressing the lack of diversity is a ‘priority’ for them at every level of the club’s teams

Another wrote: ‘Lovely picture and that but god it’s so concerning that one of the biggest clubs in the world doesn’t have a single poc in the squad.’

A third said: ‘You mean to tell me arsenals stakeholders & the execs see this and think this okay? The head coaches think this is okay? The PLAYERS look at each other think this is okay? ALL WHITE?? Please @ArsenalWFC @Arsenal there needs to be an emergency meeting & change.’

A fourth wrote: ‘We don’t have a single black woman player. That’s frightening.’

The issue around diversity in the women’s game came to even greater prominence last year when discussing the Lionesses squad that won Euro 2022. 

There were just three mixed-heritage players involved for the Lionesses. 

Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright called it a ‘systemic problem’ while former England international Eniola Aluko said at the time that changes need to be made in recruitment to tackle the lack of diversity.

The  Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) estimated that in 2021-22 close to 10 per cent of players in the Women’s Super League. It is now believed that figure has risen by five per cent. 

Last summer former England international Eni Aluko called for changes in recruitment in the women’s game to tackle the issue of a lack of diversity 

‘It’s about making sure we’re widening the pool of players for Sarina Wiegman [Lionesses manager] to choose from and for the academies to choose from,’ Aluko previously told ITV.

‘The talent is there. The FA needs to sit down and look at whether they can build centres in certain areas.

‘Just change our practises a little bit. With the professionalism of the game it’s maybe excluded people a little bit.’

The Football Association swiftly launched its Discover My Talent programme aimed at improving accessibility to football, which the governing body hopes will improve diversity. 


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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