Former Chelsea club captain Paul Elliott was part of the group which travelled to the United States and back this week for the Final Whistle on Hate match, and during the visit he shared his views on the campaign with the official Chelsea website.
Elliott was with the Blues as a player for three years in the early 1990s and made a big impact as a central defender until his career was cruelly cut short by injury. Nowadays he works within the FA, helping to drive the governing body’s equality, diversity and inclusion agenda.
In Boston, he attended the panel discussions on antisemitism, sport and social change at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library on the day of the game against New England Revolution, and he considers a Premier League club making a journey across the Atlantic to play a game to highlight the fight against antisemitism and all forms of discrimination to be a major event.
‘Chelsea, from the ownership to the boardroom to the young players who came here, underpins and supports the concept in this way, and I have not seen any other club do that,’ said Elliott.
‘It is utilising its global brand and its global fanbase for change and I think that is so powerful. The commitment over the last two or three years by everybody at Chelsea has been outstanding and really makes a positive contribution.
‘I am here to support the football club and to support the excellent work that they are doing that dovetails with the work I do in my current role at the Football Association, as the chair of the FA Inclusion Advisory Board.
‘This visit has given me a tremendous insight because as they say, you never stop learning, and listening to the speakers and how powerful and how passionate they were, it has endorsed everything I thought about antisemitism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia.
‘Strong leadership is so important and Chelsea have that in Roman Abramovich as the owner and Bruce Buck as the chair, and all the people that surround them. That is at the top level, but there is also education and the players, the role models.
‘Everything that I have done in this area of social responsibility for the last 25 years needs leadership, players as role models, and education. That is the template that underpins all the excellent work that they do.’
Elliott describes the range of social inclusion campaigns that exist as something that links all levels of football and he values seeing projects like our Say No To Antisemitism initiative from close up. He is positive about the future.
‘I am a positive guy by nature, and notwithstanding the current society changes that we have, football has a great role to play,’ he says.
‘The Premier League is watched in 195 countries, 4.75 billion people annually will watch it. We have 3.5 to 4 million supporters in the UK, 11 million participants, over 100,000 grass-roots teams under the FA’s watch. That is the power and the magnitude of the reach of football, and it is great to see clubs like Chelsea really utilising their brand for the betterment of society.’