Chelsea aim to 'educate and rehabilitate' antisemitic supporters - rather than issue bans

Media reports on suggested the club might send fans to tour Auschwitz, although the club insisted there are no plans to do so


Chelsea Football Club have announced new measures to "educate and rehabilitate" – rather than punish – antisemitic fans, in a bid to stamp out racism among its supporters.

Media reports on Thursday suggested the club might send fans to tour Auschwitz as part of the programme, although the club insisted there are no plans to do so.

Chelsea have embarked on two trips to the Nazi concentration camp in the last six months, taking supporters and staff members who volunteered for the trip.

Roman Abramovich, the club’s Russian-Israeli owner, is believed to be behind the drive to educate racist fans, which is part of Chelsea’s wider Say No to Antisemitism campaign.

Bruce Buck, the club’s chairman, admitted that stadium bans have not proved effective in combating antisemitism, and that this new policy “gives [fans] the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better.”

He added: “It is hard to act when a group of 50 or 100 people are chanting. It’s virtually impossible to deal that with or to try to drag them out of the stadium. But if we have individuals that we can identify, we can act.”

Football banning orders issued for criminal offences cannot be circumvented by the proposed scheme.

There have been numerous instances of antisemitic and racist abuse directed towards rival fans – most notably those of Tottenham Hotspur – by Chelsea fans in recent years.

It led to the club to publicly condemn fans who took part in an antisemitic song during a match against Tottenham in September 2017.

The policy has the backing of several communal organisations, including Holocaust Education Trust and the Board of Deputies, as well as that of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board, said: “Chelsea consulted widely before the launch of  their Say No to Antisemitism initiative which included the most effective way to tackle offenders.

“We have been very impressed with the commitment shown by the club in working with our community and are fully behind all of their efforts to combat hatred against Jews.”

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