Why are Arsenal wearing all-white kit vs. Oxford United? Powerful reason behind ‘No More Red’ jersey campaign

The most successful team in the history of the FA Cup will be wearing an all-white kit when they kick off their 2022-23 campaign in the competition.

Rather than their usual home and away kits this season, Arsenal will be wearing an all-white strip when they try to avoid an upset at third-tier Oxford United on Monday.

The idea is to spread a message to a worldwide audience of millions who will be watching the televised third-round game.

Here’s why Arsenal are temporarily changing their colours, what it means and who’s involved.

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Why are Arsenal playing in white in the FA Cup?

In January 2022, Arsenal launched the second phase of their campaign, ‘No More Red’, to support the long-standing initiative by Arsenal in the Community to help keep young people safe from knife crime and youth violence. 

Last year, Arsenal men’s team donned an all-white kit in their FA Cup third-round tie with Nottingham Forest, officially launching the campaign.

There were more than 10,000 knife crime offences in London between June 2020 and June 2021. Last year also saw the highest number of teenage murders in a year in London since records began.

Most of those deaths involved knife attacks. Although the number of teenagers killed as a result of violent youth crime dropped significantly in comparison in 2022, there were 11,502 knife offences recorded in the capital between January 2022 and November 2022, which was an increase compared with the corresponding period in 2021.

Together with kit suppliers Adidas, Arsenal reaffirmed their commitment to creating safe spaces for young people to play sport in the city, provide better access to trusted role models and highlight gifted individuals making a positive difference in their community.

Club legend Ian Wright, actor Idris Elba, DJ Emerald Rose Lewis and artist Reuben Dangoor are among the high-profile creative figures supporting the scheme in the community.

Professional boxer and Arsenal fan Anthony Yarde, who is one of the well-known athletes involved, has personal experience of being exposed to violence in the community when he was growing up in London.

“I understand that some are very good kids getting led astray,” said Yarde. “They see crime as a resolution but need to see the bigger picture and seek opportunities.

“I think community is very important because people need people. When people come together in a positive way, it’s powerful.

“It can be powerful in different ways, for businesses, families, sports and any other gathering you can think of.

“Campaigns like ‘No More Red’ are so important because they shine a light on the opportunities that are actually out there. In my opinion, it shines a light on choices.”

The charities and organisations involved have been given very limited supplies of a special kit accompanying the campaign, with volunteers who become involved also entitled to one.

The men’s first team will wear an on-pitch version of the kit to mark the second year of the campaign when they face Oxford at the Kassam Stadium.

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When will Arsenal wear the white ‘No More Red’ shirt again?

Arsenal women’s team will also wear a ‘No More Red’ pre-match training kit and anthem jackets when they host Chelsea in the Women’s Super League on January 15.

The match is arguably the most anticipated match of the WSL season as Arsenal take on the reigning champions in their first fixture following the winter break in the English women’s top flight. Chelsea have a three-point lead over the Gunners, who have a game in hand.

Importantly for the campaign, the match will be taking place in front of tens of thousands of people at Emirates Stadium, with a large TV audience tuning in.

The club have not named a date when the men’s team will wear the kit again.

How is Idris Elba involved in Arsenal’s ‘No More Red’ campaign?

Elba created the campaign ‘Don’t Stab Your Future’, which aims to address knife crime and work towards a better future for those at risk of becoming involved in the issue.

‘Don’t Stab Your Future’ is one of the partners of ‘No More Red’. “From the time young people leave school until the time they’re at home with family, there is often a void – a dangerous spike of nothing to do – when nothing can easily turn to something dangerous,” Elba said.

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“If there continues to be no options for this after-school period, we will always see gangs form. Let’s create options for these young people.” 

How to buy the Arsenal ‘No More Red’ shirt

Arsenal have said the shirt will never be commercially available and is exclusively on offer to individuals who are “making a positive difference in the community.”

People who volunteer as part of the scheme will receive a shirt and be invited to watch a game at Emirates Stadium. More information is available on the campaign website.

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