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NANA AKUA: Arsenal’s grovelling apology for a ‘lack of diversity’ in the women’s team is part of an insidious culture of saying sorry for absolutely everything


This week Arsenal bosses issued a grovelling apology after the club was accused of racist policies and a failure to promote diversity — because a photograph of the women’s squad appeared to feature all-white faces.

In fact, it isn’t clear whether any of the players identify as non-white, mixed race or something else — East European for example. Nor should this be remotely relevant. The only criterion for winning a place on the team ought to be footballing talent.

Real racism would be to include black players in the team for the sake of ‘the optics’. Arsenal fans better hope it never comes to that — virtue signalling doesn’t score goals.

People from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds make up about 15 per cent of the UK population so, by the law of averages, that should account for about four of those 27 players in the picture.

It’s clearly a statistical blip — leading black players for the women’s team have included TV sports pundit Alex Scott as well as Rachel Yankey, Danielle Carter and Lianne Sanderson. Arsenal also have one of the most diverse men’s squads in the Premier League. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, William Saliba — need I go on?

This week Arsenal bosses issued a grovelling apology after the club was accused of racist policies and a failure to promote diversity — because a photograph of the women’s squad appeared to feature all-white faces

This week Arsenal bosses issued a grovelling apology after the club was accused of racist policies and a failure to promote diversity — because a photograph of the women’s squad appeared to feature all-white faces

Arsenal also have one of the most diverse men’s squads in the Premier League . Bukayo Saka , Gabriel Jesus , William Saliba — need I go on? Nana Akua has her say

Arsenal also have one of the most diverse men’s squads in the Premier League . Bukayo Saka , Gabriel Jesus , William Saliba — need I go on? Nana Akua has her say

Yet the club has issued a crawling apology, promising to make ‘increasing participation among young women and girls from diverse backgrounds a key priority’.

But real diversity is often invisible. You look at that squad and can’t tell whether a woman is from a comfortable, middle-class home or grew up in poverty with a single parent and perhaps a fragmented education. There’s obviously no way of knowing which women are straight or lesbian, who might be Catholic or Buddhist or atheist. What we do know is that they all love football.

Sport is the great leveller, meritocracy epitomised. Imposing politically correct quotas helps no one — least of all the black women who will play for the club in the future and are bound to face accusations of special treatment or favouritism.

That makes my blood boil. I still hear sneers that I owe my media career to the colour of my skin, from people who haven’t a clue how hard I have worked. And because I work in a largely white industry, I’m also accused of somehow selling out or betraying my ancestry.

It’s obnoxious nonsense, and I’ve got the temperament and experience to brush it off. But that kind of cruelty is precisely what can drive young black people away from sport.

Arsenal should have issued a robust retort, declaring proudly that sport is colour-blind.

Yet compulsive apologies are now the norm. This week it was Alison Hammond, begging forgiveness for wearing a watch on This Morning after someone accused her of flaunting a Rolex during a cost of living crisis (she wasn’t: it was a Michael Kors watch, a much-loved present from her mum).

The club has issued a crawling apology, promising to make ‘increasing participation among young women and girls from diverse backgrounds a key priority

The club has issued a crawling apology, promising to make ‘increasing participation among young women and girls from diverse backgrounds a key priority

Before that, actress Emily Blunt was flagellating herself over a 2012 interview with Jonathan Ross in which she described an overweight waitress as ‘enormous’. Blunt now says she is ‘appalled’ to have said ‘something so insensitive’ and ‘hurtful’.

Most pathetic of all was Graham Norton’s televised apology to the entire town of Fermoy in Ireland, after a woman in the audience on his chat show last week called the place ‘horrible’. That’s today’s Britain — if you speak your mind, someone else will apologise on your behalf.

Personally, while I’m always happy to admit an error if I get something factually wrong, I will never apologise for my opinions.

If you don’t like them, get your own.





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