Chelsea FC stars Cesar Azpilicueta and Petr Cech and survivor Zigi Shipper showed support on Wednesday for a new Holocaust collection opening to the public at the Imperial War Museum in 2021.
The two athletes together with club chairman Bruce Buck listened to Shipper share his testimony at a private event held at the museum on Wednesday.
Born to an Orthodox family in Poland, Shipper survived the Łódź Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Stutthof concentration camps. Based in Hertfordshire, he continues to speak out about the horrors of the Holocaust.
Cech said that listening to a survivor’s testimony could have a “big impact” on the listener. “I was fortunate that the Holocaust and the Second World War was a big part of my education at school but hearing the stories from a survivor was completely different and it has a big impact on the listener,” he said.
Football, the former Chelsea and Arsenal player added, can serve as a platform to combat racism. “Football has a huge advantage because of the amount of followers it has and the players become role models for the new generation,” he said.
“We can use this power to inspire people and to educate people and raise awareness about respecting and about diversity, and tackling all forms of racism,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, Azpilicueta hailed the club’s ongoing campaign to educate players, staff and fans about antisemitism in football, which launched last year.
“We as a club are very proud to be involved in events like tonight. We are very involved in the Say No To Antisemitism campaign and hopefully we can make a difference,” the club captain said.
Objects, documents and photographs will be displayed permanently at the Imperial War Museum across six spaces, alongside a digitally-enabled learning suite in a bid to tell the personal stories of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
The £30.5 million project received support and funding from Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.