Radical courses for radical fans
– English Premier League giants Chelsea are sending fans banned for antiSemitism on diversity training courses that could end up with visits to Nazi concentration camps, the club said this week.
The initiative for fans guilty of non-criminal racist acts is part of club owner Roman Abramovich’s ongoing initiative to stamp out anti-Semitism, according to Chelsea chairperson Bruce Buck.
The club has already organised two visits to concentration camps as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the issue, and fans on the voluntary diversity course could be invited on future trips.
“If you just ban the people, you will never change their behaviour,” Buck told The Sun newspaper. “This policy gives them the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better.”
The club has previously criticised pockets of its own fans over anti-Semitic chants directed at bitter London rivals Tottenham, a club with a large Jewish fanbase.
Abramovich, who is himself Jewish, demanded a plan to deal with the issue, resulting in club delegations twice visiting the Auschwitz camp in Poland.
“Following a proposal raised at our fans’ forum, the club is launching an education programme for supporters banned for anti-Semitic behaviour,” the club said in a statement.
Holocaust survivors Harry Spiro and Mala Tribich, both 88 years old, have shared their stories at events hosted by the club as part of the initiative, which is backed by Jewish leaders.