‘Kick Rapists Off The Pitch’ — Arsenal Fans Criticize Their Own Team On Opening Day

Arsenal fans paid for a banner to be flown over the Gunners’ match against Crystal Palace on Friday.

As the Premier League began its 2022-23 season to much fanfare on Friday evening in London, an Arsenal banner flying over Selhurst Park reminded fans of the darker side of top-level sports. 

Arsenal defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 in the opening match of the Premier League season on Friday. As the match began, a plane carrying a large banner flew over the stadium, calling for rapists to be kicked off the pitch.

Arsenal Banner vs. Crystal Palace

The banner was paid for by Arsenal fans with support from We Level Up, a group fighting for gender justice and bodily autonomy as part of a campaign to fight sexual violence, especially from Premier League footballers.

The “kick rapists off the pitch” campaign comes after reports the Premier League will not suspend an unnamed player who is facing multiple rape charges.

Though that player’s name has not been officially revealed, most fans think they know who the culprit is based on online reports, and Crystal Palace fans booed every touch from Arsenal starting midfielder Thomas Partey.

Sexual violence is top of mind in the Premier League right now, with Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy facing eight charges of rape and former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs forced out as the Wales coach over domestic violence charges. It’s a sad aspect of high-level professional sports and there are countless examples in American football (just google Deshaun Watson or Baylor football program). 

Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal Highlights

As for the match itself, Arsenal won 2-0 thanks to a header from Gabriel Martinelli and an own goal by Marc Guehi.