The entrance of the notorious Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a former Nazi extermination camp.
The entrance of the notorious Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a former Nazi extermination camp.

Auschwitz plan for racist football fans

CHELSEA want to replace blanket bans for racist Blues fans with educational trips to Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Stamford Bridge owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, has spearheaded a new initiative to combat anti-Semitism at the club.

Instead of handing out banning orders to supporters, Chelsea will give them the choice of education courses or the loss of their season tickets.

Blues chairman Bruce Buck said: "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'.

"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."

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

In September 2017, after a game at Leicester, Chelsea slammed a number of their own fans for anti-Semitic chants aimed at rivals Tottenham - a club with a big Jewish fanbase.

A Chelsea delegation attended the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz in April.

And in June that was followed up by an official trip of 150 Blues supporters plus club employees to the notorious Nazi death camp in Poland.

Holocaust survivors have also given talks to the first-team squad.

Buck added: "The trips to Auschwitz were really important and effective and we will consider more as well as other things that will affect people.

"We want to convince other clubs to do their own things and make a real dent in what is still a problem."

It is understood Chelsea are so committed to the project they will cover all costs.

Train tracks line the entrance of the notorious Auschwitz.
Train tracks line the entrance of the notorious Auschwitz.

The idea has been backed by the World Jewish Congress, the Holocaust Education Trust and leading Jewish scholar Rabbi Barry Marcus.

"Banning doesn't work," Marcus said.

"It took us five years to find that out. A year ago, Roman sat down with senior people at the club and had a conversation.

"He had noticed an increase in anti-Semitism around the world and directed us to see what we could do implement a long-term project to combat it."

A hard-hitting film is at the forefront of the new campaign, launched at the House of Commons this week.

The film, the brainchild of Chelsea fan and comedy writer Ivor Baddiel, is introduced by BBC presenter Jeremy Vine and former England star Eni Aluko.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission.