Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Anita Asante and Bruce Buck joined Chelsea fans and invited guests at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday for the unveiling of the commemorative mural of Jewish football players and British POWs, which has been painted by street artist Solomon Souza.
The 12x7 metre mural of the players, who were all sent to Nazi camps during World War Two, has been painted on a wall on the outside of the West Stand to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.
Painting began earlier this month and will be completed in the coming days. It forms part of the club’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign and is funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.
The evening began with a welcome from Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck, before Souza was interviewed about the work and its importance.
A panel discussion featuring Lord John Mann, independent advisor to the UK Government on antisemitism, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock and Sharon Bar-Li, deputy ambassador at the Israeli Embassy in London, followed to commemorate this year’s anniversary.
There was then a short presentation on the Foundation Stones project, which asks the public to paint a commemorative stone to be placed within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre before the players in attendance and Buck took centre stage for a Q&A to discuss the role of football in fighting antisemitism and racism.
Speaking at the event our men’s first team captain said: ‘I am very proud to be involved in this campaign as club captain and this is one step forward in the eradication of antisemitism and racism which means a lot to all of us.
‘This mural symbolises three people who loved football and had dreams involving football and what happened to them can’t happen to anybody again so it will make people think and most importantly make them aware of the problems we still face.’
Chelsea FC Women defender Asante commented: ‘The mural is absolutely beautiful and it is a wonderful tribute to three men and their legacy to ensure we all remember what happened.
‘It is about sharing the message that we won’t tolerate intolerance and discrimination in any form. For any fan or player to be part of this club they have to support this message and that is a very strong stance from Chelsea football club.’
Loftus-Cheek added: ‘It is an amazing painting and it was a pleasure to meet Solomon and another great way to promote the campaign.
‘It is great that Chelsea are doing things like this and I am very proud to be a player at this club and attend events like this. Football can have a massive impact in areas like discrimination both in England and around the world so it is our job to support campaigns like this and spread that message.
‘Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in the world so the impact we can have on antisemitism and racism is massive and something all the players are proud to support.’
The evening came to a close with a key note address from Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Isaac Herzog and a silent minute to reflect on all those impacted by the Holocaust.