Representatives from Chelsea and the New England Revolution took part in a day of panel discussions on antisemitism, sport and social change in Boston on Wednesday.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck and director Eugene Tenenbaum were joined by former manager Avram Grant, as well as Revolution owner Robert Kraft and figures from equality and anti-discrimination organisations at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library, with two discussions taking place relating to our on-going Say No To Antisemitism campaign.
Buck spoke about sport’s role in driving social change, and was joined on stage by Brian Bilello, New England Revolution President, Don Garber, the Commissioner of the MLS, and Vince Gennaro, Associate Dean of the NYU Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport.
The other discussion focused on the state of antisemitism around the world and featured Sara Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Keynote speaker Elan S Carr, the US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating antisemitism, spoke about the enormous impact made by the Say No To Antisemitism campaign.
He praised the club’s activity and stressed the importance of athletes in changing public opinions and beliefs.
‘Those people more than anyone else can change the world, can elevate us, can uplift us, can bring kids inculcated in hatred to a place of decency and love,’ he explained. ‘That’s what athletes and entertainers can do, thought leaders can make more of a difference than all the special envoys together.
‘There is nothing more important we can do than this, affecting the 100 million followers that Chelsea has on social media. That’s how you win. That’s how you really change the world.’
Speaking about the event, Buck said: ‘This is one event in the several days here that is an important part of the project. We have visited schools, the Holocaust memorial, and it’s all about awareness and education – that’s what we’re trying to do.
‘We all know from our own experiences that football really gets your attention. Once we have your attention, we can deliver that educational message. Football is really great at making people stop, look and listen.
‘There aren’t easy measurements to know we’re making a difference, but we know we have a lot of awareness. We keep trying to move the needle a little bit and I think we are starting to do that.’
Revolution owner Kraft added: ‘I am so honoured to be here and be a part of the extended Chelsea family. What’s going on in the western world with hate crimes is horrible.
‘I had the good fortune of connecting with Roman. Roman and Chelsea have been unbelievable, there is no other team that has made the commitment and done what they have done in fighting antisemitism and hate crimes.
‘He and Eugene Tenenbaum were kind enough to agree to come over and play this match, which we hope will raise over $4 million, and we will distribute that to 15 charities. I am most impressed that Chelsea, competing at a very high level, would take the time to do this at this particular time.
‘The leadership that Roman has shown through this great team has been unbelievable and it’s a great lesson for all sports owners.’
The Blues take on the Revs at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night to round off the team’s visit to the United States. It will be broadcast live on Chelsea TV, the official club website, app and our Facebook page.