Chelsea have promised to take the strongest possible action against any supporters found to have sung an antisemitic chant on Thursday night in Budapest.
Minutes into the Blues’ next game – Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Vidi in Budapest’s Groupama Arena, which was drawn 2-2 – a vocal minority of Chelsea supporters were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham supporters, featuring antisemitic language.
Chelsea attacked the “brainpower” of those fans who “shamed the club” at the match in Hungary. The Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies of British Jews and anti-discrimination group Fare supported the club’s stance while attacking the perpetrators.
In January, the club launched a campaign to raise awareness and educate about antisemitism in football and the club, including owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, is disgusted at the latest incident.
A Chelsea spokesman said: “Antisemitism and any other kind of race-related or religious hatred is abhorrent to this club and the overwhelming majority of our fans. It has no place at Chelsea or in any of our communities.
“We have stated this loud and clear on many occasions from the owner, the board, coaches and players.
“Any individuals that can’t summon the brainpower to comprehend this simple message and are found to have shamed the club by used using antisemitic or racist words or actions will face the strongest possible action from the club.”
This comes just days after four fans were suspended for abusing Raheem Sterling, a Manchester City player, who subsequently took to Instagram to criticise how the press talks about young black football players. Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police opened investigations over the alleged racist abuse, which overshadowed Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League win over last season’s champions. The latest incident is sure to be investigated by UEFA, who said it is awaiting the referee’s report.
Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman said: “We commend Chelsea FC’s prompt intervention following antisemitic songs sung by a section of Chelsea supporter’s at the club’s Europa League game in Hungary.”
This disgraceful behaviour must be challenged and the perpetrators identified and punished. The Board of Deputies is fully behind Chelsea’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign launched this year.”
However, this incident and the abuse aimed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling last Saturday demonstrate that football still has much work to do before racism on the terraces is eradicated.”
Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: “Chants like those heard last night by fans in Budapest are deeply offensive and unacceptable. Chelsea FC are right to condemn this, as do we. Over the past year we have been working closely with the football club to educate about antisemitism and where it can lead, as part of the ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ project. Whilst we are proud of our work to date, there is clearly still more to be done. We all need to work together to stamp out antisemitism, to get this pernicious hatred out of our stadiums and out of our society”
Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson said: “We utterly condemn this second incident of racism by Chelsea fans in a week.
“The latest anti-Semitic incident is thoroughly depressing, especially in light of the dedicated work that Chelsea FC has done to address the problem.
“We completely endorse the club’s strong statement and would support them in any robust action which they now take against the perpetrators.”
There was also condemnation from Cesc Fabregas, a midfielder for the club, who said: “The quicker we get rid of these people, the better. This is not the real face of Chelsea.”
“If we have to be taught a lesson at Chelsea to improve whatever happens around the world, then I’m happy,” he said.
“If we look around carefully all over the world, all sports, all football clubs, we will find things like that. It’s true it happened this (past) weekend, we cannot deny that, but to point the finger at one football club because of that I think it’s really unfair.”
Chelsea has committed to tackling antisemitism and racism since the launch of the campaign in January, announcing it intended to send fans chanting racist songs on educational trips to Auschwitz instead of banning them.
Earlier this month football’s anti-discrimination body Kick it Out teamed up with the club and screenwriter Ivor Baddiel to produce a hard-hitting three-minute video about antisemitism in football.
Earlier this week, two black cabs media sponsored by Jewish News and emblazoned with the Chelsea logo were sent to Poland as part of a project run by Holocaust education group From the Depths – offering free rides to Polish righteous among the nations.
FTD’s founder, British-born Jonny Daniels travelled to Chelsea’s ground with former manager Avram Grant.
The club also announced it would play against New England Revolution during its US tour in Spring 2019, with Abramovich and the American side’s owner donating a million dollars each for projects tackling racism.
In January, Jewish News is media sponsoring a fundraising event held at Chelsea’s ground with the Imperial War Museum.
All proceeds will go to the Imperial War Museum’s vital project to redevelop their Second World War and Holocaust Galleries. More information and tickets details can be seen here.
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