England’s Chelsea soccer team launches campaign to fight anti-Semitism


(JTA) — England’s Chelsea soccer team announced that it will launch an initiative aimed at discouraging anti-Semitism among its players and fans.

“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 team said in a statement Tuesday, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

The club will partner with the Anne Frank House, London’s Jewish Museum, the Holocaust Educational Trust and other organizations to provide workshops on the Jewish culture in primary schools. It will also launch an education program for fans who have been banned from games for perpetuating anti-Semitism.

Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, and Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, are among those who will lead a steering committee for the project.

Supporters of the popular London-based Chelsea Football Club, which typically boasts a star-studded lineup and has won several English Premier League championships, have been accused of anti-Semitism on multiple occasions.

In 2013, Yossi Benayoun, an Israeli midfielder who played for Chelsea at the time, said that he experienced verbal anti-Semitic abuse from fans of his own team. In 2016, Chelsea fans on a London subway were caught singing vulgar chants at fans of the Tottenham team, which has been historically known to have many Jewish fans.

Earlier this season, Chelsea fans included the name of a newly signed Spanish player in their anti-Semitic slurs during a game against Leicester City. The player, Alvaro Morata, asked fans on Twitter to “respect everyone.”

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