Chelsea Football Club, has announced a new project aimed at tackling antisemitism, involving senior first team players including Eden Hazard, Charly Musonda and Ross Barkley (pictured above). The project, under the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign is supported by Roman Abramovich, the club’s owner.
In its statement the club said: “Everybody at Chelsea is proud to be part of a diverse club. Our players, staff, fans and visitors to the club come from a wide range of backgrounds, including the Jewish community, and we want to ensure everyone feels safe, valued and included.”
The club has undertaken to work alongside a number of individuals and organisations from across the world including the Holocaust Educational Trust, Kick it Out, and the World Jewish Congress. Chelsea’s chairman will additionally be leading a steering committee including several world experts on antisemitism and other prominent figures.
The project will include primary school education on Jewish faith and culture and an incentivised education programme for fans previously banned for their antisemitic behaviour. Educational activities expected to take place over the course of the year include meeting with Holocaust survivors and educational trips for staff, fans and stewards and exhibitions.
This move comes following a string of high profile incidents of antisemitism among Chelsea FC fans in recent years which specifically targeted Tottenham fans and players. In one incident a Chelsea fan was banned from football grounds for three years by a court. In September, the Football Association threatened action should Chelsea fail to act over a chant aimed at their own player, Alvaro Morata, a chant which the player and the club both swiftly and vociferously condemned.
Campaign Against Antisemitism demanded strong action from Chelsea following this incident and the decision to take an educative approach to tackling antisemitism is one that we applaud. This must not, however, come at the expense of zero tolerance action against antisemitism, and whilst these are excellent preventative and rehabilitative efforts they must be coupled with strong enforcement of law, and physical prevention of antisemitism, something that should see signs of significant improvements, with the training that Chelsea’s stewards are set to go through.
This announcement is timely, with Holocaust Memorial Day taking place on 27th January.