Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck believes the Blues have made an important statement by becoming the first club in the world to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
The move is part of Chelsea’s “Say No to anti-Semitism” campaign which began in 2017 after owner Roman Abramovich demanded the club use its influence to help tackle a wider societal problem.
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 have been blighted by accusations of anti-Semitic behaviour among their supporters in the past but the club will work to make sure that staff and stewards are aware of the definition and how to act if they witness any abuse.
“We believe that adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is an important statement for the football club,” said Buck. “First of all, it makes our job a little bit easier in determining when and when there hasn’t been an incident. It brings clarity to the subject of what is anti-Semitism.
“Over the last two years, we have done a lot of things. Mr Abramovich has contributed towards the Imperial War Museum’s new Holocaust galleries, the RAF museum. We’ve also provided funding for lots of different organisations including community security trust in the UK, the Holocaust Educational Trust in the UK and more worldwide organisations like the World Jewish Congress.
“In May, we took our first team to Boston to play against the New England Revolution team and we raised $4million which went towards our contributions to organisations that are fighting anti-Semitism. We have [also] taken fan groups, academy groups and some legends to Auschwitz in Poland.”
Lord John Mann, an independent adviser on anti-Semitism to the British government, revealed he is working with several other football clubs and called on them to follow Chelsea’s lead.
He said: “This isn’t some sort of PR stunt. It is real and has got practical use. What it gives is a message out, if you are a 16-year-old kid and you’re Chelsea, these are Chelsea’s values.
“The chances of that young man or woman saying ‘they are my values too’ are dramatically higher because of the reach that football has.
“It is more than just a statement. It is about values. If other football clubs – and I’m in discussions with quite a number – do the same thing, then that’s equally significant and I’d call on other clubs and indeed others in the sporting world to do it.”