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Chelsea vows ‘strongest possible action’ after anti-Semitic chants by fans

Spokesperson for English soccer team says ‘race-related or religious hatred is abhorrent’ to the club, which has a Jewish owner

Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) is congratulated by teammates Ross Barkley, Álvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta (R) after scoring during a UEFA Europa League Group soccer match between MOL Vidi FC and Chelsea on December 13, 2018, in Budapest, Hungary. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)
Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) is congratulated by teammates Ross Barkley, Álvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta (R) after scoring during a UEFA Europa League Group soccer match between MOL Vidi FC and Chelsea on December 13, 2018, in Budapest, Hungary. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)

LONDON — Chelsea promised to take the “strongest possible action” against any supporters of the English soccer team found to have sung an anti-Semitic chant in Budapest, just days after four fans were suspended for abusing a player from a rival club.

Minutes into Thursday’s Europa League clash with Vidi in Budapest’s Groupama Arena, which ended 2-2, a vocal minority of Chelsea fans were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham supporters, featuring anti-Semitic language.

Chelsea in January launched a campaign to raise awareness and educate about anti-Semitism in soccer and the club — including its Russian-Israeli owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish — have expressed disgust at the latest incident.

“Anti-Semitism and any other kind of race-related or religious hatred is abhorrent to this club and the overwhelming majority of our fans,” said a Chelsea spokesman. “It has no place at Chelsea or in any of our communities.

“We have stated this loud and clear on many occasions from the owner, the board, coaches and players.

“Any individuals that can’t summon the brainpower to comprehend this simple message and are found to have shamed the club by used using anti-Semitic or racist words or actions will face the strongest possible action from the club.”

Manchester City’s midfielder Raheem Sterling reacts during a UEFA Champions League soccer match between Manchester City and Hoffenheim at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, on December 12, 2018. (Lindsey Parnaby/AFP)

Chelsea and police opened investigations after alleged racist abuse was directed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling by a section of home supporters during last week’s match at Stamford Bridge.

That overshadowed Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League win over last season’s champions City and the latest incident is sure to be investigated by European governing body UEFA, which said it is awaiting the referee’s report.

Chelsea topped Group L in the Europa League to qualify for the knockout stages.

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