Chelsea Football club has joined the World Jewish Congress’ campaign to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day (IHMD), with the backing of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.
The squad of one of the world’s top football clubs was pictured holding up signs reading #WeRemember, as they joined a global project to raise awareness about anti-Semitism.
The move, which is part of a wider initiative to raise educate about Jew-hate to the club’s players, fans and staff, is backed by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who said “there is still much to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism”.
Set to launch ahead of their Premier League game against Bournemouth on 31 January, the club joins more than 70 other organisations in the global #WeRemember campaign, which is observed on 27 January.
Now in its second year, it’s the world’s largest Holocaust commemoration event.
Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich praised the initiative, saying he is “proud to have launched, together with Chelsea Football Club, this initiative to challenge anti-Semitism in all its forms. I am very impressed by the important work the World Jewish Congress is doing in this area and am delighted, therefore, with the partnership we have entered into to jointly raise awareness of anti-Semitism in sport and together making an effort to tackle it.”
Thanking the club, World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said the organisation “deeply appreciates the comprehensive efforts being made” by the club “to raise awareness of the dangerous manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism in sport”.
He added that “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.”
Chelsea also invited 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro to speak to the squad this week. Captain Gary Cahill spoke about on the club’s website saying: “I have never heard a testimony from a survivor before, and it was an incredible story”.
“You could see everyone was fixated on his story. You found yourself so intrigued as to what he has been through in his life. It’s incredible to imagine for someone like myself who has grown up in a normal environment, the things he has gone through and the pictures he must have in his head growing up as a young boy which you should never, ever see.
.@garyjcahill: ‘I have never heard a testimony from a survivor before, and it was an incredible story. I am grateful Harry was able to share it with us.'
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 18, 2018
The club’s wider initiative to raise awareness of anti-Semitism, is part of its on-going inclusion work, through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign.
The club said: “”Through the campaign, we will be working with organisations and individuals at home and abroad, including the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Jewish Museum, the Community Security Trust, Kick It Out, the World Jewish Congress and the Anne Frank House.
A committee of experts will be leading the overall campaign, which will be led by club Chairman Bruce Buck. It includes President, CEO and Executive Vice-President of World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald Lauder, Robert Singer and Malcolm Hoenlein, as well as xecutive Vice-Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations.
Other figures include Cecilia Wikström, who is a Member of European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Working Group Against Antisemitism, Karen Pollock, Chief Executive, Holocaust Educational Trust, Abigail Morris, Chief Executive of the Jewish Museum in London, Dave Rich, Head of Policy at the Community Security Trust, Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO at the Anti-Defamation League and Lord Peter Levene, Lord Mayor of London 1998-1999.
As part of the initiative, the Chelsea Foundation’s equality and diversity workshops in primary schools will be extended to talk specifically about Jewish faith and culture, while additional activities taking place throughout the year will also include educational visits to former concentration camps for staff, fans and stewards, an exhibition at the Chelsea Museum on football and British Jews and screenings of Liga Terezin – a documentary about a football league run from a concentration camp during the Holocaust. The club are hoping to welcome Holocaust survivor, Harry Spiro, to Chelsea to share with us his and his family’s story.