Boys battle racism in football

Jack Sullivan (front row, left) and Joshua  Klein with West Ham’s Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame

Jack Sullivan (front row, left) and Joshua Klein with West Ham’s Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame

Two 13-year-old schoolboys have embarked on a mission to combat racism in football.

Jack Sullivan, the son of West Ham Football Club co-owner David Sullivan, has teamed up with his Jewish schoolfriend Joshua Klein.

Both boys, who attend Chigwell School, participated in the BBC-led School Report initiative, which involved young people making and submitting a news report on Thursday.

Joshua, who celebrated his barmitzvah at the kotel in Jerusalem last October, said they “are mad football fans.

“Jack supports West Ham and I support Spurs, but it doesn’t make a difference because we both go to games and see the same things. Sometimes you hear racist chants from the opposition.”

As part of the report project, the boys interviewed West Ham players at the club’s training ground in Chadwell Heath, including captain Kevin Nolan, as well as manager Sam Allardyce.

Joshua said the players “told us the press sometimes blow things out of proportion but it’s important that we raise racial awareness and stamp out abuse”.

Joshua emphasised that the boys were intent on combating prejudice across the board, including antisemitism. “A lot of people think Jews own football because of people like Daniel Levy [chairman of Tottenham Hotspur] — but it’s not true.”

His father, Andrew, a member of Newbury Park Synagogue, has arranged to have Mr Allardyce speak at a fundraising breakfast next month.

“I think what the boys have done is great,” said Mr Klein. “Josh is doing his part to get the message across, and that’s the message of tolerance.”

Last updated: 10:45am, March 25 2013