LONDON – After a year in which anti-semitism Chelsea, one of England's leading football clubs, is stepping up its fight against hate. The London-based Premier League club owned by Russian Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich he spent the weeks leading up to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, issuing two statements as part of his "Say no to anti-Semitism" campaign. Earlier this week, the club released a mural honoring the memory of Julius Hirsch and Árpád Weisz, two Jewish football players who died in Auschwitz. The 40-foot-by-23-foot piece by British Israeli artist Solomon Souza, whose grandmother escaped from the Nazis in 1939, will hang in the stadium until the end of the football season in May. On Friday, Chelsea announced it would adopt the International Holocaust Memory The Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism work, saying it was the first sports team in the world to do so. The team will be educated on the subject and the definition will appear in the day's programs. The two gestures, close to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place on January 27, take place when Jewish communities in the United States and Europe are the target of violence and abuse.
Anti-Semitic slogans were scattered in shops and cafes in North London at Christmas and in December there was a general election in which the opposition Labor Party was accused of failing to combat the anti-Jewish rhetoric of some of its supporters. Last week, the police arrested six Labor Party supporters for alleged anti-Semitism and prosecutors are now considering prosecuting them. "We see on our screens a sharp increase in anti-Semitism around the world, phenomena that we have not seen for years." Isaac Herzog, president of the Israeli non-profit Jewish Agency, said at the opening of the mural earlier this week. " Cemetery desecrations, synagogue desecrations, throwing stones at Jews, threatening schools, threatening kindergartens, going into terrorism, murdering Jews in synagogues when they pray, "added Herzog. "This is incomprehensible. In the modern world, which wants to work in search of certain rules of human behavior and, suddenly, it erupts in the most disgusting way."
While guests such as Herzog and members of the London Jewish community gathered in London to see the mural, Abramovich remained absent. The 53-year-old man, who made his fortune in Russia's oil and gas industries, had visa problems amid a slowdown in relations between London and Moscow after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March 2018.Just two months earlier, Abramovich was included in a list, prepared by the US Treasury Department, which included several Russian businessmen and politicians who had close ties to President Vladimir Putin and a possible target for future sanctions.Although Abramovich's appearances in the UK have become scarcer – he took on Israeli citizenship in May 2018 and hasn't played a single game at Chelsea's home last season or so far this season – he continues to campaign against the anti -semitism around the world.
His friendship with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft resulted in Chelsea playing a friendly against the Major League Soccer team, New England Revolution, which Kraft also owns in Boston last May. He raised more than $ 4 million for organizations that fight anti-Semitism and discrimination. Abramovich also donated $ 5 million last year to Kraft's new venture, the Foundation for Social Media Messaging Against Anti-Semitism. Chelsea had its own struggles to combat anti-Semitism from some of its supporters during the 1970s and 1980s, continuing to the present day. Last year, the club was accused by the Union of European Football Associations, the governing body of European football, after what Chelsea himself described as anti-Semitic singing in a game in Hungary. Some fans of Tottenham Hotspur, a rival team based in North London, despite requests from Jewish groups refer to themselves as "Yids" or "Yiddos" – a derogatory term that refers to the Jewish people. The phrase is repeated in some songs and songs by Chelsea fans. UEFA rejected the charge, but a Chelsea spokesman at the time condemned the song and said that "anti-Semitism and any other type of religious or race hatred is abhorrent for this club and the overwhelming majority of our fans".
In July, the club banned six fans from watching matches, one for life, for violating racist abuse in Manchester City and English star Raheem Sterling, who is black. they are hardly alonein facing problems of racism in European football. At the opening of the mural, César Azpilicueta, captain of the Chelsea men's team, said he believed football could help educate fans about the dangers of anti-Semitism and racism. "Football is very powerful and we can reach millions of people," he said. "Fans are a huge part of our club, of football, and they are also a huge example for everyone. You see in the stands, the children who hear and they see people, and I think it is a good example if we spread the message not only on the field, but also by our fans, step by step ".