Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to fund Israeli coexistence football project

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to fund Israeli coexistence football project

The Playing Fair, Leading Peace programme will break down barriers and combat hate across communities between Israeli Jews and Arabs

Chelsea launched its campaign to tackle antisemitism in January 2018
Chelsea launched its campaign to tackle antisemitism in January 2018

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will fund an extended programme in Israel that brings Jewish and Arab children together in football coaching sessions.

The expanded Playing Fair, Leading Peace programme will break down barriers and combat discrimination by mixing communities in Israel.

Chairman Buck hailed Chelsea’s latest steps to counter antisemitism, racism and discrimination – and insisted the three and a half years of club campaigns have altered the west Londoners’ attitudes forever.

“Fighting discrimination and antisemitism is in our DNA now,” Buck told the PA news agency.

“And we don’t see any end in sight for stopping these programmes, we’re just going to keep going on and on, and hopefully we’ll keep making a difference.

“We’ve seen just this week what happened post the England game and that is unacceptable.

“And football clubs are in a special position to be able to do things about it through the power of football, and we and other clubs will do that and want to do that.

“Our No To Hate and Say No To Antisemitism campaigns are worldwide programmes.

“From our perspective and from the perspective of the people that work directly on these programmes, hopefully we leave an imprint everywhere we go.”

Chelsea have no plans to relent on their fight against discrimination, approaching four years since the launch of their Say No To Antisemitism campaign.

Buck will speak at the Global Forum For Combating Antisemitism this week, having been asked to describe the “Chelsea model” of taking a stand against discrimination and abuse.

Revealing the club’s pride at the long-running stance being lauded internationally, Buck also expanded on the new work in Israel.

The Chelsea Foundation, the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation and the Israeli Football Association have combined to extend the Playing Fair, Leading Peace programme.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

More than 1,000 Arab and Jewish children each year will be brought together through football, with Chelsea funding the expanded set-up and club staff training local coaches.

“This also brings into play the experience we have of coaching, and coaching young people,” Buck said.

“Part of this project is where our coaches train the trainers, so we leverage our ability.

“We train trainers and then they work with the youngsters.

“And I think we all know that education is the key to solving some of the discrimination problems we have in this world.

Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck at the Chelsea FC-Jewish News Antisemitism fundraising event for the Imperial War Museum at Stamford Bridge (Photo by Clive Howes/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“We say we’re leveraging football, but we’re actually leveraging the leveraging of football.

“Hating people does not come naturally, it’s something learned over time.

“And to the extent we can do things to change that learning process and educate people not to hate, then it’s a win-win for everybody.

“It’s always been one of our objectives to encourage other football clubs and football institutions to get involved also.

“We’re not trying to be out there by ourselves, we want others to get involved in all this.

“If we’re contacted by clubs, which we regularly are, then we provide all the insight we can to help them move forward with their own programmes.”

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