Building Bridges is Chelsea FC’s campaign to promote equality, celebrate diversity and make everyone feel valued throughout our club, stadium and wider community.
Through Building Bridges, we work with everyone from children and young people in schools and grassroots football clubs through to community groups and our senior men's and ladies' teams, to create a club where everyone feels welcome, regardless of who they are and where they come from.
Since the campaign launched in 2010, Chelsea FC is proud to have been awarded the Advanced Level of the Premier League Equality Standard - one of only two professional clubs to do so - in recognition of our ongoing commitment to inclusion and to tackling all forms of prejudice and discrimination.
What we do
Celebrating equality through education
Using the power of the Chelsea FC brand, our players and the game itself, we work with children and young people in schools across the south of England to talk about equality and discrimination as well as values of friendship, respect and teamwork. Every year we hold a competition for young people to develop their own anti-discrimination campaigns and pledges, the winners of which have the chance to come to Stamford Bridge, have their photo taken on the pitch, and even to meet some of the players. The programme is going from strength to strength and in the year ahead we will be working with more and more young people in primary and secondary schools across the south of England.
Championing disability football
We are proud to have a large and successful disability programme which helps people of all abilities to get involved in football. On the pitch, successes have included one of our disability teams playing in an exhibition match at the opening of Rapid Vienna’s stadium ahead of a first team game; and our Cerebral Palsy (CP) National League Southern Conference winning team being introduced to the crowd alongside the European Youth winning team at one of our final games of the 2015/16 season.
Off the pitch, we work closely with the Chelsea Disabled Supporters' Association - the club's representative body for disabled fans - to ensure our disabled and non-disabled communities are afforded the same opportunities. Successes have included working together to create an industry-leading, disabled ticketing policy which provides free places for disabled fans and their carers; developing policies which take into consideration the needs of our disabled fans; and ensuring stadium facilities are as accessible as possible, including earpieces for visually-impaired supporters, disability drop-off and pick-up points, and radar key-fitted accessible toilets.
Valuing our LGBT Community
We know that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people feel excluded from football and fear homophobic, biphobic or transphobic discrimination (HBT) whether working in the game, watching from the terraces or playing on the pitch. At the same time, we recognised that HBT discrimination can affect anyone, not just LGBT people. So through Building Bridges we work with LGBT fans, our workforce and campaigning groups to ensure that Chelsea FC is a safe and inclusive club for LGBT people, their families and friends.
In February 2016 we established Chelsea Pride, our LGBT fans’ group, to increase visibility and give LGBT people a representative voice at the club; and in November 2016 we took part in Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign through a series of activities during our home game against Tottenham Hotspur, including:
· Gary Cahill proudly wearing the rainbow captain’s armband throughout the match
· Providing players with rainbow laces to wear on the day
· Displaying the Rainbow Laces campaign on our LED boards throughout the match
· Bringing together Chelsea Pride and Proud Lilywhites (Spurs' LGBT fans’ group) before the match to discuss what more we can do for LGBT inclusion across the game
· Promoting our LGBT work through the matchday programme, this website and on social media
‘It was amazing to see the commitment on social media, the banner hanging in the stadium, the LED equality messages throughout the match, and the armband on Gary Cahill. No small effort, completely unambiguous in its support, and hugely appreciated.’
William, Chelsea Pride member
Developing diverse talent
Chelsea's ground-breaking Asian Star initiative has led to more than 3,000 young Asian players taking up the challenge to be named Asian Star since the programme's introduction in 2009. The initiative aims to overcome low participation levels from British Asians in the beautiful game. So far, ten winners have gone on to play for professional club academies.
The Chelsea FC Foundation's Community FC side also offers opportunities for aspiring footballers with a variety of disabilities. Whether players are visually impaired, have cerebral palsy or learning difficulties, we provide coaching for all keen footballers.
Our disability department leads the way for disability and pan-disability football coaching and was rewarded for their efforts when members of the Community FC team and their coach were given the honour of carrying the Paralympic torch through central London by Lord Sebastian Coe.
Working in partnership
Through Building Bridges, we work with a range of charities and campaigns to raise awareness of diversity in football and tackle inequality.
For example, to tackle anti-Semitic abuse, Chelsea worked alongside other clubs, football authorities and Kick It Out to produce The Y-Word, a short film about anti-Jewish language. Starring former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, the film was made to raise awareness that 'yid' is discriminatory language which is particularly offensive to Jewish people, and is unacceptable on and off the terraces. We continue to promote this message throughout the season.
In addition, we work with organisations including Show Racism The Red Card and the Black and Asian Coaches Association, as well as football authorities such as the FA and the Premier League, to celebrate all forms of diversity and to make sure all discrimination is prevented and tackled.
Celebrating inclusion through our Game for Equality
Launched in 2013, Chelsea FC's Game for Equality provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the club's year-round inclusion work, and brings together organisations and football bodies campaigning to make football more inclusive and diverse. Matchday activity includes:
· an exclusive short film featuring players and fans to underline the campaign's message. The film is shown across all our platforms including the big screen before the game, Chelsea TV, this website and social media
· a series of features across all Chelsea media, in the build-up to the game, about our equality and diversity work
· players wearing campaign t-shirts to warm up and playing kits featuring the Building Bridges logo, which are then auctioned after the game to raise funds for our equality work
· displaying our ‘Support Chelsea. Support Equality’ inclusion message on LED boards throughout the match
Any fans entering Stamford Bridge, visiting our website or reading our publications will be instantly aware that we are a club proud of our multi-ethnic and religious makeup.
Supporters can also play an important part in the fight against discrimination on a matchday. Each matchday programme details specific numbers and confidential text services for fans to report discriminatory chanting or behaviour.
If you witness such behaviour during a game, please send a text message to 07894 93 77 93 with the stand, row, seat number and description of the offender and incident. Alternatively, you can phone 0207 386 3355 and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
To find out more about Building Bridges and how you can support our equality work, contact our general enquires.