England’s Chelsea soccer club has joined a new campaign by the World Jewish Congress to combat anti-Semitism, the organization announced Thursday.
The WJC “deeply appreciates the comprehensive efforts being made by the Chelsea Football Club to raise awareness of the dangerous manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism in sports,” said Robert Singer, the organization’s vice president.
The announcement Chelsea would join #WeRemember, a social media campaign led by the WJC to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry, came as team owner Roman Abramovich unveiled Tuesday the club’s own initiative to battle anti-Semitism.
“With people around the world observing International Holocaust Memorial Day later this month, we are reminded that there is still much to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism. That’s why I am proud to have launched, together with Chelsea Football Club, this initiative to challenge anti-Semitism in all its forms,” said Abramovich, who is Jewish.
Other sports teams to join the WJC campaign include Israel’s Hapoel Beersheba, Hapoel Katamon, and Maccabi Haifa, whose fan bases, unlike Chelsea’s, don’t have histories of anti-Semitism.
In September, Chelsea called on fans to stop singing an anti-Semitic song about the club’s Spanish striker Alvaro Morata that took aim at their hated London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, which has traditionally attracted support from London’s Jewish communities.
“Alvaro, Alvaro. He comes from Madrid. He hates the f****** Yids,” the Chelsea supporters sang.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said “the language in that song is not acceptable at all,” while Morata also called on the club’s supporters to stop chanting the song.
The song was not the first time Chelsea fans have been caught making offensive chants in recent years.
Videos appeared on social media of some supporters singing anti-Semitic songs ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham last April.
Chelsea fans also pushed a black commuter off a Metro train in Paris in February 2015 ahead of a Champions League tie.