Why Did Arsenal Wear White in the FA Cup Against Oxford United?

On the 8th of January, 2023, Arsenal comfortably defeated Oxford United 3-0 in the third round of the FA Cup, thanks to two goals from Eddie Nketiah and a Mohamed Elneny header. However, whilst it was business as usual on the pitch for the Gunners, keen-eyed observers may have noticed that the north London side were looking slightly different.

This is because Arsenal were wearing an all-white kit for the game at the Kassam Stadium, a departure from the usual red, black and pink kits that they have been sporting this season. So, why was this the case? We will be rounding up all of the information you need to know about the club’s symbolic new kit in this article, as well as revealing whether it will be available for purchase online.

Why Were Arsenal Wearing an All-White Kit?

Following on from its launch in 2022, Arsenal wore all-white kits against Oxford United in support of the “No More Red” anti-knife crime campaign. This initiative is described by the club’s website as “our long term commitment by Arsenal and Adidas to tackle the root causes of youth violence, and provide safe spaces and more opportunities for our young people.”

The decision to swap the iconic Arsenal red for white shirts, white shorts and white socks (even the sponsor, manufacturer and club crest were white) is symbolic of the campaign’s mission to prevent further blood being split by knife crime, which continues to be a hugely prevalent issue throughout London and the UK.

No More Red Campaign

Between January and November of 2022, there were a reported 1,502 knife-crime-related offences in London, which was an increase from the previous year. This shows that this is an issue that continues to threaten the lives of more and more young Londoners, making the No More Red campaign extremely important.

Alongside its mission to combat knife crime in the local community, the No More Red initiative also aims to create safe spaces for young people to play football, where they also might meet positive role models. This is something that both Arsenal and Adidas have invested in and begun with the redevelopment of the pitch on Harvist Estate, which is located just a few minutes away from the Emirates Stadium.

The initiative also has a number of other different ways in which it aims to tackle this problem. Freddie Hudson, who is the head of the Arsenal in the Community organisation, described how the No More Red campaign “provides educational opportunities that help individuals make better, informed choices about their future.” Furthermore, it is not just the Arsenal players who are publicly supporting the initiative, as it has several high-profile celebrity partners. These include actor Idris Elba and boxer Anthony Yarde, who are also both supporters of the north London side.

When Else Have Arsenal Worn an All-White Kit?

Arsenal in action
katatonia82 / Bigstockphoto.com

As the No More Red campaign was only set up in 2022, Arsenal’s all-white kits have only been worn on one previous occasion. This was during their 2022 FA Cup third-round clash with Nottingham Forest, which marked the launch of the initiative. Whilst the game ended in a rather disappointing 1-0 loss for the Gunners, it was an important day, bringing widespread attention to the issue of knife crime, and how the No More Red campaign aims to combat it.

Although Arsenal had never worn an all-white kit before the initiative began, the club does have a history of wearing white. In the 1960s, Arsenal wore predominately white away shirts, before yellow became the club’s away colour of choice. The Gunners have also played in white fairly recently, but as a third kit rather than an away strip, as was the case in the 2007/08 and 2009/10 seasons. Of course these more traditional white strips had the standard branding, badge and sponsorship in contrasting colours.

Can You Buy the No More Red Kit?

CYP screenshot

The unique all-white kit is not available for the public to buy. This is because, rather than using their involvement with the No More Red campaign for financial gains, Arsenal are instead choosing to donate the white shirts worn on match day to people in the local community. This is to highlight those that are making a difference, recognising the importance of people and organisations in the community who are giving up their time and working to tackle knife crime and educate young people.

Each organisation will receive 10 of the all-white shirts to donate to its volunteers, who will also be invited to watch Arsenal play at the Emirates. The kits will be donated to the following organisations:

Will These All-White Shirts Be Worn Again in the Future?

Having been worn by the Gunners in their third-round FA Cup games for the past two seasons, it seems highly likely that this tradition will continue, as the club continue to show their support for the hugely important campaign. It is also worth noting that, alongside the men’s team wearing all-white kits against Oxford, Arsenal Women have also supported the No More Red initiative. Instead of playing in the kits, Arsenal Women wore No More Red-branded training kits and jackets as they warmed up for their game against Chelsea on January 15.