Former soccer player Ian Wright has lamented cuts in youth centers and linked them to “wasting lives” when speaking about an Arsenal-backed anti-knife crime campaign that he co-runs with Idris Elba.
The No More Red initiative led the club to abandon its famous red jerseys for an all-white jersey for their FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Wright and Elba said one of their goals is to create spaces for young people that could offer an alternative to gang violence.
Speaking to ITV, the former Arsenal striker said he was “lucky” growing up to have access to youth workers and “the people who looked for me”.
During an interview at City Ground Stadium, Wright said, “To be honest, to be a father, grandfather, great grandfather, but the fact is that when I was younger I was lucky enough to have the rooms, the youth workers.
“If you look at the last 10 years, 750 closed youth centers, 4,500 unemployed, youth workers, people you build relationships with, people who know you, and then you look at how much lives are wasted … The campaign goes it’s about … inspiration and action. “
Elba said the campaign was a call for “no more bloodshed” after 30 teenagers “died pointlessly” in London last year.
“It’s an ongoing problem,” he said. “’No More Red’ literally means no more bloodshed. We can do something – teenagers watch soccer. “
The campaign was praised by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who described it as “enormously powerful”, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan also supported the initiative.
“I’m a Liverpool fan, but today I’m going to cheer for Arsenal,” the mayor said in a tweet on Sunday.
England internationals Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were among the Arsenal players who participated in a video to support the campaign.
The Gunners sponsored the initiative, which is a collaboration with Adidas, on Sunday at Nottingham Forest Stadium during the FA Cup game. Arsenal lost the game 0-1.
The 10 outfield players’ jerseys will never be available for sale and are intended to be donated to organizations that address some of the causes of violent juvenile delinquency.
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