Abramovich launches campaign to combat anti-Semitism

  • JackSportAbramowitz
Chelsea Football Club chairman Roman Abramovich has launched a campaign to fight anti-Semitism, which has become rife in British football.
by JACK MILNER | Mar 22, 2018

It appears to be getting worse. Just last week, another nasty incident came to light in which an Arsenal fan was caught on film singing an anti-Semitic song.

This supporter, on his way to the March 8 Europa League match between the Gunners and AC Milan, sang “Gas them all” in relation to the largely Jewish fan base of Tottenham Hotspur.

The video, which was recorded by a fan, followed the man on his way to the match, as he sung the despicable song. The fan responsible for filming said he wished to remain anonymous, but added that he had reported the incident to Arsenal. “I would unhappily say that this is the worst piece of football-related racial hatred I have ever seen,” he said.

Confirming that the club was looking into the incident, a spokesperson for Arsenal added that it “would be difficult to identify the singer”.

The club, he added, condemned “behaviour of this nature”.

“Arsenal is an inclusive club which welcomes everyone and

this incident is extremely disappointing and unacceptable.”

Abramovich, who has had to deal with anti-Semitic remarks from Chelsea supporters over the years, decided it was high time to tackle the problem.

Chelsea fans caused controversy earlier this season with a chant about signing Alvaro Morata that included anti-Semitic content. The chant mocked the traditionally Jewish supporters of Chelsea’s rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, with the use of the word “Yids”. This is what they sang: “Alvaro, Alvaro. He comes from Madrid. He hates the f****** Yids.” Morata said he was uncomfortable being connected to this.

Abramovich, who is chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, invited Holocaust survivors to speak to Chelsea players at the club’s training ground earlier this year.

Arsenal fans recently upset Jewish Tottenham supporters when they sang “I’ve got a foreskin, have you?” on their way to a match against Spurs.

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn entered the fray last month, blaming Spurs supporters for using the term “Yids” to describe themselves.

Corbyn also urged Spurs fans to abandon the chant. He made his comments at a Show Racism the Red Card event, organised to combat anti-Semitism and racism in UK soccer matches.

“The idea of adopting a term to neutralise it doesn’t really work because it is identifying a club by an ethnic group or faith, whereas you should be identifying club through supporters,” Corbyn said at a press conference.

In 2013, British police told Tottenham fans they could face arrest for using the word “yid”, but reversed the decision six months later under pressure from the club.

Urging Tottenham fans to ditch the chant “Yid Army”, Corbyn said: “Yid chants are unacceptable. It plays into something that’s not very good and we should be saying: ‘We’re the Spurs’ or ‘We’re the Arsenal.’”

Abramovich recently wrote about his new initiative to challenge discrimination. “This is the start of an important journey to challenge discrimination. It has always been important to me to create a club that is welcoming to everyone.

“We actively celebrate cultural and religious diversity and deliver programmes to promote equality and tackle discrimination. However, we are all too often reminded there is more to be done.”

He described the Holocaust as a crime without parallel in history. “We must never forget such atrocities and must do our utmost to prevent them from ever happening again. It is my honour to dedicate this match to the victims of the Holocaust and to the Jewish community.”

He added: “I am proud to launch an initiative to raise awareness of, and to tackle anti-Semitism in all its forms, and hope to have your support for this work.

“This is the start of an important journey and we all have a part to play. We can all do something to challenge discrimination at our club as well as within the world around us.

“With your help, Chelsea can play a leading role in this vital area of work and demonstrate to everybody that we are a club open to all.”

After the launch of the campaign, Chelsea put out a statement aimed at both their own fans and those of visiting clubs. “Anti-Semitism has no place in our club, football or wider society. Anyone found guilty of anti-Semitic language or behaviour will face action from the club, including bans, and will be asked to attend equality education courses.

“We welcome the fact that Chelsea fans have reported this behaviour, which shames our club. We ask all fans who share our vision for a game open to all to report any kind of discrimination they witness or experience.

“We will be working closely with the police to identify those responsible and will take the appropriate action.”

Speaking about the Arsenal incident mentioned at the beginning of this article, a spokesperson for Action Against Discrimination, a charity set up to combat racism in football, said: “In the light of anti-Semitic abuse reported and ongoing reports of recent claims of racism in football stadiums, the problem goes on unabated. This Arsenal fan’s continuing to chant anti-Semitic songs at football matches is merely the latest example.

“Once again, we implore the relevant bodies to look at this and to take swift and appropriate action.”




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