Chelsea claim world first in club's campaign against anti-Semitism

Matt Law
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Cezar Azpilicueta stand in front of the giant mural on the side of Stamford Bridge - Chelsea FC

Chelsea have become the first sports club in the world to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

The move is part of their “Say No to anti-Semitism” campaign, which was launched two years ago and has been driven and funded by owner Roman Abramovich.

The IHRA states that “anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Chelsea, whose fans have faced accusations of anti-Semitism, will work to make sure that staff, stewards and supporters have a knowledge of the definition and what to do if they witness abuse.

The definition, which will be featured on the Chelsea website and in match-day programmes to raise awareness, is already used by the government and the police.

Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, said: “We believe that adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is an important statement for our club. Although we have been working in accordance with these guidelines for many years now, we hope that by formalising the IHRA classification, we can further tackle anti-Semitism and discrimination through better understanding and education.

“Football has an unrivalled ability to do good in society and we must harness this power to tackle all forms of discrimination in the stands and our communities.”

Lord John Mann, the Government’s independent adviser on anti-Semitism, added: “This is now the agreed working definition of anti-Semitism across the world. Chelsea are to be congratulated for taking the lead by being the first football club in the world to adopt it. I expect that many more will now want to follow suit.”

The announcement comes on the back of the club commissioning a giant mural on the side of Stamford Bridge to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan 27 and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It features three men linked to football who were sent to Nazi camps.

“The mural will have more impact than a thousand speeches in Parliament on anti-Semitism,” said Lord Mann. “It’s reaching people Parliament can’t. It’s hugely powerful.”

Buck added: “The ‘Say No to anti-Semitism’ campaign is focused on combating discrimination, not just at Stamford Bridge but also in our communities. Led by the club’s owner we are determined to do all we can to create meaningful change on this issue.

“There is still a long way to go, but the fight against anti-Semitism is one that we believe is necessary. There can be no place in our game or our societies for anti-Semitism or any form of discrimination and we are proud to encourage those around us to join this vital cause.”