Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘It is a problem for us and it is a problem for women’s football’ Jonas Eidevall on lack of ethnic diversity in women’s first team

Arsenal Women coach Jonas Eidevall admits that it is a problem that the women’s first team has no visible players of colour in the squad. Arsenal are one of two WSL clubs not to have a player of colour in their first team squad (Everton being the other).

A lack of grassroots recruitment in urban areas over the last 15 years is heavily touted as one of the issues that has seen participation in girls football drop off markedly over the last decade and a half, with many regional talent centres in inner city areas closed down and youth recruitment happening largely in more suburban areas.

England’s 2007 and 2011 World Cup squads each had six players who were either Black or Mixed Race, while England’s Euro 2022 winning squad had three players of colour, two of whom did not play a minute at the tournament. Jonas Eidevall was asked about the lack of ethnic diversity in the current women’s squad ahead of Arsenal’s match with Manchester City on Sunday.

“I haven’t seen much reaction online to start with but, where we come from in North London, we are very proud of our community and it is a diverse community,” Eidevall responded.

“The history of the club, both the men’s and the women’s first team, has a very proud history of players coming from diverse backgrounds as well and the club are very proud of that.

“Us not having that diversity in the women’s first team squad today, of course, that is a problem. Women’s football has a diversity problem in getting people of colour involved in football.

“Not only at the top level but also at grassroots level, we have to work with that and so do the FA and other clubs.”

Arseblog News will have a long read on this subject published in the next week or so. We have spoken to a range of people from a range of perspectives to explain why there is a lack of diversity in the women’s first team, why it’s an issue and what is being done to solve it.

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Cygan’sbaldspot

Absolutely disgusting comments.

MartynJ

Looking forward to the longer piece on this. Also curious that what had been regonized as a problem for women’s football in England as a whole around the time of the Euros is now being presented as an Arsenal problem by some – is this primarily due to some of the (coughs) *discourse* on social media over the last couple of months? Also, why is ths question not being raised at, for example, Brian Sorenson’s press conferences?

Michael (1)

I think people have rightly pointed that London is one of the more diverse places in England so there’s more of a focus on as a club. Unfortunately club tribalism online, has hijacked the conversation and taken it away from being a conversation about women’s football in general and made it out to be an Arsenal specific problem.

Michael (1)

Happy that Jonas acknowledged this and glad that the club could take the criticism on board. As seen in the mens game making the effort to have people from different backgrounds have access to football results in more good players for the club and for the game in general. Hope we see evidence of this change in recruitment strategy or the makeup of the academy in the coming years.

Fun Gunner

Just on the Academy recruitment strategy, I obviously don’t know the figures for the whole Academy, but the double-winning U16 girls’ photo shows 3 or 4 non-white players in a squad of about 15. Plus of the 5 or 6 young players (16- to 18-year-olds) who are on loan or training with the first team prior to signing a professional contract, around half are not white. The focus should be on making sure the net is spread as widely as possible, so that we can recruit the best players and train the best youngsters. Having an ethnically diverse squad is… Read more »

Michael (1)

Yeah you hit the nail on the head, and I’d argue that in the case that equal opportunity is pursued and the widest pool of talent is looked at you will have very few teams that are not ethically diverse. The premiere league is probably the best example, talnet from all over the world where the best players are chosen and teams are very diverse.

Fun Gunner

That will probably be the result, but for the Arsenal – not the FA, which is another important distinction which isn’t made – the aim is to assemble the best players who all work together. So it is *theoretically* possible that even when the net is spread as wide as possible, the 25 best players we can train/recruit for our squad are of one ethnicity. Unlikely…but possible.

Fun Gunner

I think JE’s remarks are sensible. I am a bit irritated by the tendency to pin this on Arsenal, who almost every black/mixed race English player that I can think of over the last 15 years or so in the WSL or championship (or previous iterations of the women’s leagues) has played for, or was trained by. The problem, as I see it, is that by making it more expensive and logistically more complicated to participate at grassroots level, football is being turned into a middle class sport – affecting black potential players disproportionately because black people are disproportionately poor… Read more »

Kbbcw

If you look at the one Londoner who has made the Arsenal squad in the last 5-10 years, she is middle class. There is a truth that you need commited parents to become a top women’s player. Mead talks about her mum driving her 2+ hours to train. Urban areas have higher levels of poverty and lower levels of car ownership. And that means lower numbers of minority players coming through.

Tim Stillman

Yeah, even England’s HQ is in the Burton countryside and you absolutely need a car to get to it. I know of a Black player who came through at Arsenal who couldn’t accept England youth call ups because she couldn’t get to St. George’s Park because her mum didn’t drive.

Vonnie

While I don’t think this is solely relating to Arsenal, I have noticed how the women’s team has become even less diverse over the last few years and it has been an issue for me. I’m glad that the club are taking the situation seriously. Obviously we want the very best players in our squad, but I find it strange that there seem to be even less non white players of the requited standard now than when Rachel Yankey and Alex Scott were playing. Looking forward to the long read.

Daniel

It is lazy to just pin it on arsenal, fans of teams like Chelsea screaming that arsenal are racist is mad, Its a systemic issue, no one at arsenal is refusing to sign black player’s, it’s the FA and the government that need to make sure that young girls of other ethnicities get the same opportunities to get into football and make it to this level, looking at our young player’s who might break through, looks like there’s been some process, such a shame for Agyemang her loan has started with injury

Gooner7190

You just have to look at some of the black/mixed race players we’ve had, most of whom are women’s football/WSL legends(Yankey, Asante, Sanderson, Carter, Scott) to know that Chelsea fans talk utter shit

Canadagoon

Super annoyed by the comments outside the club and on social media trying to pin Arsenal as racist when we have such a proud history of developing and playing black players.

Our squad must have 10+ different nationalities in it, with players from 4 different continents, is that not diverse?

Little Cubby

As far as lm concerned you get the best players to do the job for the team/club regardless of ethnicity. Whats most important is the success of the team, if you’re good enough you’ll get there

Tim Stillman

Yes and that’s the issue, we’re not capturing all the talent. The number of Black and mixed race players in the England squad has more than halved over the last decade and the number in the top flight has dropped dramatically. That’s because certain communities (including White working class) are having barriers erected so we’re not getting the best talent, no. Not even nearly.

Little Cubby

Im all for us having the best talent at our club, l dont care about their ethnicity l really don’t, but lm not happy about my club being ridiculed because we don’t have any black players (at the moment) what about Yanks, Scott and Dan Carter in the past? Mega, mega players for our club !

pahtotheworld

When we do have young players getting minutes on the pitch in WSL, FA takes them away for age level internationals

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