The Chelsea Foundation, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and the (Israeli Football Association) IFA are today launching a new partnership to further develop and expand the Playing Fair, Leading Peace programme, bringing together Arab and Jewish children across Israel through football. The partnership forms part of Chelsea Foundation’s ‘Say No to Hate’ initiative and is funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.

Playing Fair, Leading Peace uses a ‘training the trainers model, recruiting outstanding Jewish and Arab university students to take part in a football-based, anti-discrimination and leadership training programme. Following their training, Young Leaders work in mixed Jewish-Arab pairs to implement inclusive football activities for mixed classes of Jewish and Arab schoolchildren.The programme has been in place since 2016, and is supported by the Israeli National Football Association and with additional support from UEFA Foundation for Children and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

The new partnership with Chelsea Foundation will enable an expansion of the programme, reaching more than 1,000 Jewish and Arab children and young adults across Israel during 2021/2022. Chelsea’s professional coaching model, dedicated to promoting values of fair play, respect and discipline, will be integrated into the programme supported by Chelsea Foundation’s world-renowned coaching staff.The partnership between Chelsea FC, the Peres Center and the IFA was developed following Chelsea Women’s visit to Israel in 2019 (pictured below), during which the team took part in football and education workshops with Arab and Jewish girls, promoting communication and teamwork and bringing different communities together through sport.

Bruce Buck, Chelsea FC Chairman said ‘During our visit to Israel in 2019, we saw first-hand the power football can have in bringing together communities and breaking down barriers. We hope that this new initiative will empower children to harness the respect and fairness in football and use those values to promote greater tolerance, unity and inclusion in society.Chemi Peres, Chairman, The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation added: ‘This important partnership is set to elevate the Playing Fair, Leading Peace project to new heights, offering participants an unparalleled opportunity to build their capacities as leaders and community changemakers. The Peres Center is proud to expand this initiative, promoting diversity and inclusivity through sport and bringing Jewish and Arab young leaders and children together work towards a common goal of peace.’Oren Hasson, IFA President, said: ‘This groundbreaking collaboration is a testament to the partner’s belief in the power of football to be a connecting bridge on the pitch and everywhere. No barrier, natural or artificial, will prevent the common future of us all in the field of football and in every other aspect in life.’