Chelsea seek to educate racist offenders
Chelsea are committed to engaging any racist supporters in educational courses which could include funded trips to Auschwitz as part of their wider drive to stamp out antisemitism, sources have told ESPN FC.
The club want to give supporters found to have engaged in abuse the opportunity to spend time with diversity officers as an alternative to blanket bans.
In a statement issued to ESPN FC, action group Campaign Against Antisemitism praised Chelsea’s drive to change the minds as well as the actions of a minority of their supporters. “Chelsea Football Club’s decision is a commendable proactive effort to educate some of the club’s anti-Semitic supporters,” said Stephen Silverman, the group’s director of investigations and enforcement. But the organization also warned that attempts to educate racist fans must be deployed in conjunction with, rather than instead of, punishment for incidents of abuse. “Visits to concentrations camps form an important part of any educational program designed to help combat antisemitism but it cannot replace disciplinary action or, where a hate crime against Jews has been committed, the full force of the law,” Silverman added.
“Offering visits to Auschwitz to fans who have already been identified as anti-Semites might help those racists to see the error of their ways, but it also presents many opportunities for abuse and should only be offered as part of a broader rehabilitation program that follows on from formal legal proceedings.” Chelsea are aware of this risk. Sources at the club have told ESPN FC that their policy will not interfere with cases where football banning orders have been imposed as a result of action by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, but rather target lower level offenders who may prove more receptive to educational courses as an alternative to losing access to matches.
In an interview with The Sun on Wednesday, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: “If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior. This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.”