UK football team declares war on fans’ anti-Semitism

Britain’s Chelsea Football Club is launching a new educational campaign to combat anti-Semitism among its fans. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

The British Chelsea Football Club (CFC) is launching a new educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of the persistent phenomenon of anti-Semitism in sports, prevalent among its fans.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is partnering with Chelsea in developing and promoting the long-term campaign, which was announced on Tuesday under the leadership of club owner Roman Abramovich. The campaign will be launched officially on 31 January at the Premier League game against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge Stadium.

In a statement, CFC said that “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 project will include primary school education on Jewish faith and culture and an incentivized education program for fans previously banned for their anti-Semitic behavior. Educational activities are expected to take place over the course of the year include meetings with Holocaust survivors and educational trips for staff and fans.

The WJC “deeply appreciates the comprehensive efforts being made by the Chelsea Football Club to raise awareness of the dangerous manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism in sport, and we are proud to partner going forward in pursuing this important initiative,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer. “The value of one of the most prominent sports clubs in the world vigorously leading the charge in addressing this crucial issue, cannot be overstated.”

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Still much to be done in fight against anti-Semitism

Abramovich told the WJC upon announcing the campaign that “with people around the world observing International Holocaust Memorial Day later this month, we are reminded that there is still much to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism. That’s why I am proud to have launched, together with Chelsea Football Club, this initiative to challenge antisemitism in all its forms.”

This initiative comes following a string of high profile incidents of anti-Semitism 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. The chant references Chelsea supporters’ loathing of Tottenham and features an offensive term to describe Jewish people that they use as a derogatory alternative name for the north London club.

In previous attempts to tackle anti-Semitism, Chelsea has worked alongside other clubs, football authorities and “Kick It Out,” English soccer’s anti-discrimination body, to produce “The Y-Word,” a short film about anti-Jewish language. Starring former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, the film was made to raise awareness that “yid” is discriminatory language which is particularly offensive to Jewish people, and is unacceptable on and off the terraces.