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Chelsea launches initiative to combat antisemitism

“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.”

    Chelsea players Charly Musonda, Eden Hazard and Ross Barkley, launch the antisemitism initiative as part of the Building Bridges campaign
    Chelsea players Charly Musonda, Eden Hazard and Ross Barkley, launch the antisemitism initiative as part of the Building Bridges campaign

    Chelsea Football Club has announced plans to launch a campaign against antisemitism, aimed at educating its players, staff and fans.

    In a 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 Premier League champions will work with groups including the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Jewish Museum, the Community Security Trust, Kick It Out, the World Jewish Congress, the Anne Frank House, and Maccabi GB, for the “Building Bridges” initiative.

    A steering committee for the initiative includes senior figures such as Ronald Lauder, president of the WJC; Karen Pollock, chief executive of the HET; Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States; and Dave Rich of the CST.

    The committee will be led by Bruce Buck, Chelsea chairman, and is backed by club owner Roman Abramovich.

    The club said it intended to raise awareness of Jew-hate, and its impact on the Jewish community and society, and wanted to make Chelsea “welcoming to all”.

    Fans of the club have repeatedly been accused of antisemitic remarks, gestures and chants.

    In 2013, Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli midfielder who played for Chelsea, said the abuse from fans of his own side was the worst he had experienced in his career.

    Earlier this season, supporters chanted antisemitic abuse during a Premier League match against Leicester City.

    Chelsea’s youth foundation will run equality and diversity workshops in primary schools to talk about Judaism and Jewish culture.

    An education programme will be launched for supporters who have been banned for antisemitism, in an effort to “help them understand the impact of their actions”. Participation in the course could potentially lead to a reduction in the length of bans imposed on fans.

    Chelsea fans, staff and stewards will visit former concentration camps, an exhibition will be run at the club’s museum on the history of British Jews in football, and Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro will visit the club to tell his story.

    In a statement, the WJC said: “The World Jewish Congress deeply appreciates the comprehensive efforts being made by Chelsea Football Club to raise awareness of the dangerous manifestations of antisemitism and racism in sport.

    “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.”

    Ms Pollock said: “Sadly antisemitism remains a serious issue in our society. Every effort made to fight it should be applauded and welcomed, and we are delighted and proud to be working with Chelsea Football Club to ‘say no to antisemitism’.

    “Hearing from a survivor, learning about the Holocaust, and understanding what language constitutes hate speech, all contribute to a better understanding and greater awareness of what antisemitism is and how to combat it.

    “Through this initiative Chelsea are making a real commitment in fighting this issue within the game and the wider community.”

    Abigail Morris, chief executive of the Jewish Museum, said: "Football is a subject that has long been of interest to Jewish Museum London.

    "Our Four Four Jew exhibition in 2013, supported by the Football Association, explored the historic ties between Britain's Jewish community and the beautiful game.

    "However, the problem of antisemitism sadly persists in the industry, taking several shapes and forms, which is why Jewish Museum is proud to be part of this important initiative... and ensure that football provides a level playing ground for everybody.

    "Some of the activities Jewish Museum London is undertaking as part of the partnership include hosting a display about football and the Jewish community in January, lending items to be displayed at the Chelsea FC museum, and helping to develop school education programmes about faith and identity."

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