Chelsea FC and the World Jewish Congress have launched the international ‘Pitch for Hope’ competition, the first stage of the three-pronged initiative to combat racism, xenophobia, discrimination and antisemitism in sports, under the banner ‘Red Card for Hate’.
The initiative forms part of the Say No To Antisemitism campaign launched by the club in January and will encourage young people, aged 18 to 23, from the UK, USA and Israel to submit proposals for a unique and creative project to harness the spirit of camaraderie in sports to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, faiths and walks of life.
In the UK and the US, Chelsea and the WJC have been reaching out to potential participants representing institutions working toward coexistence, including Jewish and Muslim organisations, as well as leading educational institutes.
The competition in Israel will draw participants from minority groups in the peripheral north and south of the country, and people of all religions – including Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze – as well as members of the lower socio-economic strata, and will take a focus on the visual arts.
Finalists will be invited to present their proposal in September at Stamford Bridge to a panel of judges representing the WJC and Chelsea. The winners from each country will receive a $10,000 (approx. £7,000) grant from Chelsea and the World Jewish Congress to develop and implement their pilot project.
The competition will expand to Germany and France for a following round next year, following high-demand from football clubs across Europe.
This initiative was made possible due to a generous contribution from Roman Abramovich and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck said: ‘We hope that our joint initiative will start a process that we believe is vital and long overdue.
‘Change does not happen overnight, it takes time, education and understanding, and therefore we have devised the initiative as a long-term project that will grow and build, and hopefully inspire other clubs to follow our lead and create their own antisemitism initiatives, as well as working together with us on joint campaigns and activities.’
WJC CEO Robert Singer said: ‘Antisemitism is as dangerous in the sporting world as it is in civil society, and both are growing at alarming rates.
‘It is our duty, as fans and as teams alike, to work together to put an immediate stop to this phenomenon. The World Jewish Congress and Chelsea Football Club are committed to sending a clear message that the spirit of sport must be tolerance and respect, not hatred and xenophobia.
‘We look forward to seeing the creative proposals submitted by our participants, and are confident that working together, we will make a difference.’
The Red Card for Hate initiative will take the form of three specific projects. In the second part of the initiative, Chelsea and WJC will produce a series of videos to raise awareness about the tangible effects of antisemitism and discrimination, to be rolled out over the course of the 2018/19 football season, both at games and on social media platforms.
In the third stage of the initiative, Chelsea and WJC will host a special forum in mid-2019 to bring together national football associations, football clubs, players, government officials and representatives of civil society to share best practices and create a fertile ground for discussion and collaboration, as well as create a network of dedicated people and organisations to enhance the fight against antisemitism in sports.
For more information visit Pitch for Hope