Chelsea anti-Semitic chants: Football fans ‘using political atmosphere to cover racism’ – Fare


Chelsea launched a campaign in January to raise awareness and educate about anti-Semitism in football

Some fans are using the “political atmosphere as a cover for their own racism and prejudice”, says anti-discrimination group Fare.

It comes after Chelsea condemned a vocal minority of their fans for anti-Semitic chants during Thursday’s 2-2 draw with MOL Vidi in Hungary.

Earlier this week, four Blues fans were suspended following the alleged racial abuse of Raheem Sterling.

Fare executive director Piara Powar says such attitudes must be defeated.

“The sad fact is that in recent years Chelsea have done an incredible amount of work to tackle anti-Semitism, much of it highly innovative and impactful,” said Powar.

‘Racism holds no place in football or society’ – Hughton

“But there remains throughout football a rump of people who in 2019 will see the political atmosphere as a cover for their own racism and prejudice.”

A Chelsea spokesman said the offensive songs about Tottenham fans have “shamed the club”.

Ben Holman, from educational anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, says anti-Semitic abuse must be “treated seriously in mainstream society” for it to be tackled accordingly in football.

“In some incidences the message has got to the fans it’s not acceptable,” Holman told BBC Sport. “The problem is some of the chants are more historic and in that way fans don’t realise the problem with it.

“Until it’s treated seriously in mainstream society as racism you will always see it shunted off in football as not so serious.

“Racism isn’t a problem intrinsic to football. These fans are at a football match for two hours a week, but for the other 166 are members of society, taking the bus, going to work.”

According to incidents recorded by charity the Community Security Trust, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the UK.

Meanwhile, a report by watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary earlier this year said hate crime rose after the 2016 Brexit referendum and the same could happen when the UK leaves the European Union in 2019.

“Our organisation has always believed sport and football are a microcosm of society,” added Holman.

“We think if society is racist, football is part of society and will always have racism, so we try to educate young people in society and hope football will follow.”

Powar described the episode as a “sad indictment” of “where some people are in their understanding of racism and the impact it can have”.

“They stare history in the face and think they are somehow exempt from the judgements it will make on their actions,” Powar added.

“We should give a lot of credit to those Chelsea fans who highlighted what was going on at the match on social media or directly to the authorities.”

What have Chelsea done about it?

Last year, Chelsea condemned an anti-Semitic chant by their fans during a win at Leicester, with Blues supporters using a song about their striker Alvaro Morata to abuse London rivals Tottenham, who have a large Jewish fanbase.

Spain international Morata also posted on social media asking fans to “respect everyone”.

Holman says the Stamford Bridge club have been “progressive and forward thinking” in their efforts to eradicate anti-Semitisim from their fanbase.

In October, chairman Bruce Buck told the Sun newspaper the club may require fans found guilty of anti-Semitic abuse to visit the site of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz rather than banning them.

The Premier League club’s Say No to Anti-Semitism scheme,