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Arsenal Women’s team photo sparks race row

Arsenal Women’s 2023/24 squad photograph has started a fiery debate over diversity, with fans outraged over the lack of representation of players of colour. 

The controversy erupted following Arsenal’s social media post on Friday showcasing their 27 players and manager Jonas Eidevall ahead of the Women’s Super League (WSL) season, which kicked off on October 1.

This polarising issue has brought to the forefront the underrepresentation of ethnic diversity in women’s football. 

The BBC (via the Daily Mail) estimated that the WSL comprises only 10-15% of black, Asian and minority ethnic players, a significant decline from the nearly 33% representation in the men’s Premier League.

Disgruntled Arsenal fans wasted no time expressing their disappointment on social media platforms, with X serving as a primary battleground for criticism. 

Many supporters labelled the absence of players of colour as ‘shocking’ and urged immediate action to address this lack of diversity.

The discussion around diversity in women’s football has gathered momentum, particularly in light of the composition of the England squad that emerged victorious at the 2022 European Championship. 

There were just three mixed-heritage players on the team, and it highlighted the deep-seated nature of this issue. 

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright characterised it as a ‘systemic problem’, emphasising the need for structural changes.

The WSL season recently started, and the controversy surrounding Arsenal’s squad photo serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing disparities in women’s football. 

Calls for more inclusive and equitable representation are growing louder, prompting discussions on how best to address this issue for a more diverse and representative future. 

Arsenal Women will look to put the debate to one side when they face Aston Villa tomorrow.

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