Club owner Abramovich has a new approach to antisemitism
Following racist chants fellow Blues supporters spewed after a match against Leicester last year, club owner Roman Abramovich intends to spearhead an educational campaign. Instead of banning them, he wants to send them on an educational trip – to Auschwitz.
Chelsea representatives attended the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz in April and 150 fans, plus club employees, visited the death camp in Poland in June. The Blues squad has also been spoken to by survivors of the Holocaust.
Chelsea are understood to be planning to offer those found guilty of anti-Semitic chanting the option of the educational trip or losing their season ticket.
But Blues chairman Bruce Buck claims banning orders don’t work in the long term. “If you just ban people, you will never change their behaviour,” Abramovich said. “This policy gives them the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better.
“In the past, we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years.
“Now we say ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong’.”
Chelsea publicly criticised a number of their own fans for anti-semitic chanting against rivals Tottenham in September 2017. Buck added: “It is hard to act when a group of 50 or 100 people are chanting. That’s virtually impossible to deal with or try to drag them out of the stadium. But if we have individuals that we can identify, we can act.”
On Wednesday Chelsea previewed a new film at the Houses of Parliament aimed at raising awareness of the consequences of antisemitism, interspersing images of offensive chants and social media posts alongside images from the Holocaust. Buck told the club’s website: “We are just trying to make a dent in the antisemitism in this world. Over time we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”