A banner calling for the game of football to throw out rapists off the pitch was flown over Selhurst Park on Friday ahead of the Premier League 2022-23 opening game between Crystal Palace and Arsenal. The banner that was flown over the ground, read ‘Kick rapists off the pitch’.
The act is an outcome of a protest sponsored by Arsenal supporters and a feminist campaign group named Level Up. The collaboration calls for the London-based club to implement a robust disciplinary policy to deal with gender-based violence.
A statement issued by Level Up conveyed that 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’.”
The protest comes right after Premier League’s newly introduced policy for footballers to undergo mandatory training on sexual consent.
“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.
Seyi also wants all their demands to be met. Moreover, the Level Up co-director wants a fair trial to be conducted by an independent ombudsman.
An Arsenal fan Mikey Franklin voiced a similar opinion.
“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, Franklin told SportsBible.
Premier League was recently jolted after a player faced allegations of rape.
But the said club reportedly decided not to take any action against the accused who was arrested on suspicion of rape.
Meanwhile, Manchester City’s French left-back Benjamin is set to be trialled after he was charged with eight counts of rape.
History suggests that Premier League clubs have acted differently while treating accused footballers. And this inconsistency is not only baffling but it also underlines the urgent need to make strict rules for the clubs while tackling such cases.
Previously, Manchester United had decided to suspend Mason Greenwood after the English striker was arrested on suspicion of rape.
Yves Bissouma, on the other hand, was not suspended by his former club Brighton and Hove Albion after he was arrested under the suspicion of a sexual assault last year.