Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud were joined by chairman Bruce Buck and former Chelsea manager Avram Grant at a Q & A session in Boston on Monday evening.
The quartet discussed the club’s Say No To Antisemitism campaign ahead of the Final Whistle On Hate game which takes place on Wednesday. Azpilicueta and Giroud also answered questions from members of the the Boston Blues Supporters Club, many of whom had braved the elements to watch training earlier today.
The event started with questions to Grant about the 2007/08 campaign when he was Chelsea manager and we reached the Champions League final for the first time in our history. He said the undoubted highlight was beating Liverpool in the semi-final of that competition on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Buck then spoke about the origins of the club’s campaign to tackle Antisemitism, revealing it originated in a board meeting with Roman Abramovich in November 2017.
‘We have done a lot of projects in the last year or so and partnered with lots of organisations,' said Buck.
'It’s been a very rewarding experience for everyone at the club. Fans in London and around the world can be proud of this project as well as the many other things the football club does.’
Grant told the emotional tale of his family’s awful suffering at the hands of the Nazis. His father survived the Holocaust but had to bury his parents and his sisters with his own hands. Despite those traumas, he still managed to have an optimistic outlook on life which Grant said inspires him to this day.
After a video was shown about the recent March of the Living in Auschwitz when representatives from Chelsea and New England Revolution were present, Azpilicueta and Giroud arrived on stage and thanked those present for their support from afar.
‘Our target is obviously always to win, but we want to make sure we are together with the fans because when we go to play we have our badge on the shirt,’ the Spaniard said.
‘The feeling we all have we have to share it with all of you. This passion makes people follow Chelsea, or to pass it on from fathers to sons or daughters.’
Regarding the subject of discrimination in all its form, Azpilicueta explained how Chelsea has played its part in addressing the issue.
‘Education is the base to eradicate all discrimination in life and in football. We are lucky that football can move people. We can teach a lot of people and they listen to us. We have to use the power of getting to millions of people in the right way.
‘Chelsea is one of the most active football clubs in the world doing campaigns. We participate in a lot of events and we are proud of it. We will keep going because there are still a lot of problems.’
There followed a light-hearted question about nutmegs after the fans had seen the players revelling in one at training today, and then the players were asked for their favourite Chelsea goals.
Azpi chose his first for the club, at Arsenal in 2013 when Giroud was in opposition. The Frenchman’s pick was more recent.
‘It’s obvious. It’s the goal against Southampton in the FA Cup semi-final. Some people said it was a Messi goal!
‘It was a bit unusual for me! But it was a very good goal and I’m quite proud of it. It helped the team reach a final and then we won it at the end. It was a great feeling, even more because I had my brothers in the stands.’
One thing the pair could agree on was that they hope to top those goals in Baku later this month!