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Anti-discrimination leaders and Jewish groups have joined Chelsea in condemning the anti-semitic chanting by some of the London club’s supporters.
Days after four Blues fans were suspended for abusing Raheem Sterling, with some of the language used allegedly racist in nature, the unsavoury behaviour of a minority of supporters has been highlighted for a second successive match.
Chelsea have strongly criticised a derogatory chant about Tottenham supporters, featuring anti-semitic language and heard during Thursday night’s Europa League game with Vidi in Budapest.
The Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies of British Jews and anti-discrimination group Fare supported Chelsea’s stance while attacking the perpetrators.
Piara Powar, executive director of Fare, described the episode as a “sad indictment” of the ignorance of some supporters.
Powar said: “This latest incident involving Chelsea fans singing anti-semitic songs in Budapest is 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
There have now been three high-profile discriminatory incidents in recent weeks, with Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police investigating the abuse of Sterling, while a banana skin was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he celebrated a goal against Tottenham.
And Chelsea, including owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, are disgusted by the latest episode.
A Chelsea spokesman said on Thursday night: “Anti-semitism and any other kind of race-related or religious hatred is abhorrent to this club and the overwhelming majority of our fans. 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 using anti-semitic or racist words or actions will face the strongest possible action from the club.”
The JLC endorsed Chelsea’s words in a statement yesterday.
JLC chief executive Simon Johnson said: “We utterly condemn this second incident of racism by Chelsea fans in a week.
“The latest anti-semitic incident is thoroughly depressing, especially in light of the dedicated work that Chelsea FC has done to address the problem.
“We completely endorse the club’s strong statement and would support them in any robust action which they now take against the perpetrators.”
Board of Deputies vice-president Amanda Bowman added in a statement: “This disgraceful behaviour must be challenged and the perpetrators identified and punished. The Board of Deputies is fully behind Chelsea’s Say No to Anti-Semitism campaign launched this year.
“However, this incident and the abuse aimed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling last Saturday demonstrate that football still has much work to do before racism on the terraces is eradicated.”
Powar called for further work to achieve cultural change.
Powar added: “I have no doubt that in the end these types of attitudes will be defeated.
“What is needed now is a recognition that the cultural change required throughout football to deal with individuals like these, the abusers of Raheem Sterling, and the person who threw the banana at Aubameyang, is not by any means complete.
“That necessity for cultural change applies across the football industry, not just the terraces, from the governing institutions, to clubs and the media.
“We should look at what’s been happening in the last two weeks to get more creative and bring about that culture change more urgently.”
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