Chelsea FC and World Jewish Congress announce anti-racism competition winner
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Chelsea FC and World Jewish Congress announce anti-racism competition winner

Nick Spooner awarded £7,500 for his 'Hope Not Hate' proposal - aimed at combating widespread racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia in sports.

WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer, Pitch for Hope UK winner Nick Spooner, and Head of the Chelsea Foundation Simon Taylor. Picture: Gary Perlmutter / World Jewish Congress
WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer, Pitch for Hope UK winner Nick Spooner, and Head of the Chelsea Foundation Simon Taylor. Picture: Gary Perlmutter / World Jewish Congress

Chelsea Football Club and World Jewish Congress have announced the UK winner of its Pitch for Hope competition – which aims to combat widespread racism, antisemitism and xenophobia in sports.

Nick Spooner from Sheffield, was awarded £7,500 for his proposal, “Know The Score: Tackling Online Radicalisation and Offline Hate.” Speaking of his winning idea, Spooner, the digital organiser of Hope Not Hate, said: “With this project, we’re really looking forward to equipping the next generation of students with the tools to fight prejudice and discrimination of any kind both on their campuses and off.”

The competition calls on young people aged 18-30 in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel to propose creative ideas for an initiative to harness the spirit of comradery in sports and build bridges between people of all backgrounds, faiths and walks of life.

Spooner envisions his project will extend to 12 universities, featuring three core points: using in-depth research and data-monitoring software to track hateful content online; engaging in in-depth research to give students the tools to critically asses what counter-narratives to use to push back against hate, and what language to use to be the most effective, as well as how to be emotionally resilient; and bringing students into the online counter-narrative community. He was chosen from six finalists from across the UK by a panel of judges including Board of Deputies of British Jews Chief Executive Gillian Merron.

WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said: “The World Jewish Congress and Chelsea launched this initiative with the hope that by engaging young leaders, and supporting your energy, vision and ambition, we might truly be able to change the discourse about racism and antisemitism in sports.

“Your proposals are even more powerful than we expected and give us serious optimism that one day we will actually see a sporting world free of hatred. We wish the winners the best of luck in their endeavours and will continue to stand beside you to help turn our collective dream into reality.”

Simon Taylor, Head of the Chelsea Foundation, said: “Sport has the unique ability to bring people together. Through our Building Bridges initiate we are using football to inspire our communities around the world to celebrate equality. Alongside the World Jewish Congress, the Red Card for Hate program underlines this commitment and to see the ideas on show this evening was a real privilege. It was an honour to see so much passion and commitment demonstrated by the young people.”

The final US and Israel competition were held earlier this month where Seren Fryatt of Washington D.C. and Alyssa Chassman of London were named as the winning team in New York, while in Tel Aviv, Idan Amos, Michael Shapira, and Raveh Shahar Tirosh, students at the Benjamin Rothman Emek Yaffe High School in the Gilboa Valley of Israel took the top prize for their idea to create a line of shirts and scarves for football fans, displaying the logos and symbols of opposing teams on a single item of clothing, in order to draw rivals together in a spirit of comradery.

The winners will join Spooner later today at Chelsea’s ground Stamford Bridge, to present their proposals, and will also watch this weekend’s Premier League match against Manchester United with officials from the organisations.

The competition is the first stage of WJC and Chelsea’s three-pronged Red Card for Hate initiative, and part of Chelsea FC’s overall Say No to Antisemitism campaign, which was launched in January at Stamford Bridge. Red Card for Hate will continue in the next stage with a video series and culminate next spring in Paris with a global summit of ministers and sporting officials from around the world.

The initiative was made possible thanks to contributions from Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.

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