Chelsea Plan to Send Racist Fans on Trip to Auschwitz Instead of Stadium Bans

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 11, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looks on during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hopes to send racist supporters of the club on a trip to former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz rather than ban them from Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich, who is Jewish, aims to tackle antisemitism and racism from Chelsea fans by educating those found guilty of it, rather than banning them from attending matches. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck told The Sun (h/t Press Association, via Guardian):

"If you just ban people, you will never change their behaviour. 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.'"

Fans would still be able to attend games at Stamford Bridge if they took part in the initiative.

Chelsea writer Dan Levene was uncertain as to whether the new policy would succeed in its goal but lauded the club's efforts:

Chelsea criticised the behaviour of some of their fans following a clash against Leicester City in September 2017, during which songs using a Jewish slur were sung by supporters in reference to rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who have a large Jewish following. 

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."

In February 2015, when Chelsea fans in Paris for a UEFA Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain forced a black passenger off a metro train, chanting: "We're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it."

Journalist Martin Lipton supported the movement, which has also been given support by Jewish organisations:

Representatives from the club attended the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz in April, and 150 more fans and staff went on a trip in June.

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