Premier League’s Chelsea FC and New England Revolution of MLS Join Forces to Challenge Antisemitism in Soccer
In a direct challenge to the rising tide of racism and antisemitism in soccer stadiums around Europe, two top soccer teams from the UK and the US will participate in this year’s “March of the Living” at the site of the Auschwitz extermination camp, where the Nazis murdered over one million of the six million victims of the Holocaust.
Premier League side Chelsea FC and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution confirmed on Thursday that players from both teams would travel to Poland for the event on May 2.
The owners of Chelsea and New England Revolution — Roman Abramovich and Robert Kraft — are both Jewish, and have a record of supporting efforts within sport to combat antisemitism and discrimination.
Other participants will include Chelsea director Eugene Tenenbaum, chief executive Guy Laurence, former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, and Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave.
Tenenbaum said: “Sharing this experience of paying our respects to the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust with members of the New England Revolution goes a long way in spreading the message of unity and tolerance.”
Abramovich, who obtained Israeli citizenship last year, personally launched Chelsea’s “Say No To Antisemitism” campaign with a column in the club’s matchday program in January. Sections of Chelsea’s support are known for racist and antisemitic chants, including a song that pokes fun at Auschwitz.
Last October, Chelsea announced that it would send racist fans on educational visits to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, instead of barring them. “If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” the Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, explained at the time. “This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.”
Following their participation in 2019’s March of the Living, Chelsea’s players will travel to Boston for a friendly march against the Revolution on May 15, with ticket proceeds benefiting the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Holocaust Educational Trust and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, where 11 Jewish worshipers were murdered by a neo-Nazi gunman last fall.