Arsenal fans teamed up with feminist campaign group Level Up to fly a banner over Selhurst Park, during the Premier League’s opening game, to call for football to kick rapists out of the game.
The Gunners opened the Premier League season with an away fixture against Crystal Palace on Friday night, the second season in-a-row they’ve had a London derby to kick things off.
The banner was co funded by Arsenal fans and Level Up, with the campaign group explaining why they flew the banner over the ground.
“The Premier League are finally beginning to recognise the enormous influence that football has on our culture and our individual behaviours by introducing mandatory consent training,” Level Up co-director Seyi Falodun-Liburd told the Athletic.
“We want to see all the actions from our open letter implemented, particularly consequences and disciplinary actions for players who cause harm – and we want this done by an independent ombudsman, who sits outside of any business or club.”
The Premier League had announced on Thursday that it was bringing in mandatory sexual consent training to all players in the league.
A statement from Level Up said they “plan to disrupt the fanfare and demand England’s top tier takes more action on ‘a culture of impunity around sexual violence in football’.”
It comes on the back of other players facing accusations of rape, with Benjamin Mendy currently on bail awaiting trial for eight counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape.
Arsenal fan Mikey Franklin, who helped fund the banner on Friday, told the Athletic, “As a lifelong Arsenal fan, I want to see our club lead the league in fighting sexual violence.
“Anyone who is violent towards a woman must be held accountable, no matter how important they are to any team’s success.
“Sexual violence is a problem everywhere and I want Arsenal, given their importance in the Premier League, to lead the way.”
If football doesn’t take action against those who commit violent crimes against women they risk alienating 51% of the population.