Prejudice is everywhere; even in sports. Fans have been attending soccer matches and spewing antisemitic behavior.
Now the Chelesea football club in England will be offering their fans an opportunity to overcome their prejudiced behavior.
Instead of having the club confiscate their season tickets for a period of three years, those who have exhibited racist behavior can either accept the three-year ban or participate in educational courses taught at Auschwitz.
Roman Abramovich, the part owner of the club, is the primary force behind this initiative. The Chelsea football club will cover the costs of the program since they are set on terminating racist behavior.
Abramovich, who is Jewish himself, has already organized two visits to Auschwitz as part of its efforts to combat antisemitism. Fans who choose the option of taking a course at Auschwitz will be invited on future trips.
“If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” said Cheslea chairman Bruce Buck, according to The Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realize 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.’”
“Following a proposal raised at our Fan’s Forum, the club is launching an education program for supporters banned for anti-semitic behavior, as well as helping them to understand the impact of their actions, with participation in the course potentially leading to a reduction in the length of their ban,” the club said in a statement.
The initiative has been looked favorably by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects Jews from anti-semitism.
Head of CST policy, Dave Rich, told Huffpost UK: “Giving people the opportunity to change their views and learn, and tackling anti-semitism through education is definitely something to be welcomed.
“If it works, then it’s much better than just banning somebody,” he continued. “If you ban someone from your football stadium they still have their racist views, it’s much better to change them.
“This sets an example of how to tackle anti-semitism, not just for football clubs, but others in society.”
The Say No Anti-Semitism initiative was also launched in March and a delegation from the club attended the March of the Living at Auschwitz.
Two months later, 150 Chelsea fans visited Auschwitz and two Holocaust survivors, Harry Spiro and Mala Tribich, spoke of their experiences.
“Hearing from a survivor, learning about the Holocaust, and understanding what language constitutes hate speech, all contribute to a better understanding and greater awareness of what anti-semitism is and how to combat it,” said Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Through this initiative, the Chelesea football club is making a real commitment in fighting this issue within the games and the wider community,” she added.