Chelsea have issued a statement condemning the behavior of a “vocal minority” of their fans who “refuse to join us in the 21st century.”
Chairman Bruce Buck issued the statement on the same day UEFA opened an investigation into alleged antisemitic chants by Chelsea fans during their Europa League game against Vidi last Thursday.
That incident, as well as Chelsea supporters appearing to take flags with nazi symbols along to Budapest with them, came just a few days after an investigation was launched into the alleged racist abuse of Raheem Sterling by four Chelsea supporters.
Buck revealed that Chelsea will continue its programs fighting antisemitism and racism present in the game, as they will also play a game against the New England Revolution in May to promote their ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign.
Below is the statement from Chelsea in full.
After recent events, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to our community and fans to condemn the actions of a few mindless individuals at some of our recent matches. These actions are unacceptable and unwelcome both in our club and in football.
A deeply unpleasant but vocal minority which refuses to join us in the 21st century has shamed the great majority of our decent, well-behaved fans. We have been carrying out our own investigations into these events while cooperating fully with authorities. We have already suspended four individuals pending investigations and will continue to take the strongest possible action against anybody found to have been using discriminatory words or gestures. But we must all come together to stamp out these ugly scenes.
Over the past weeks, months and indeed years, I have spoken at length to various Chelsea fans and supporter groups, all of whom are in full agreement that the type of behaviour we have witnessed is wholly unacceptable, hurtful and does not represent the club or the overwhelming majority of those who follow our teams home and away.
The message from Mr Abramovich, our directors, our coaches, our players and our hundreds of staff is simple – this is a club open to everybody. We are committed and determined to be a force for good and not a symbol of society’s wider problems.
Our club prides itself on our inclusion and diversity work, and in particular that of the Chelsea Foundation, which since its birth in 2010 has grown into one of the most far-reaching social programmes in world sport. Its Building Bridges campaign has promoted equality within our club, our stadium and throughout our communities for nearly a decade.
Our Say No to Antisemitism campaign has received widespread backing since its launch in January and as a part of this, we will play a game next May against the New England Revolution in America. We also recently took part in the Rainbow Laces campaign, reinforcing our support for the Chelsea Pride group to increase visibility of and provide a representative voice for the club’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) fans, their friends and families.
Other activities include our equality and diversity workshops for primary school children and the annual Asian Star initiative, which for a decade has aimed to increase participation at all levels of the game in British-based Asian communities. Our Disability Showcase debuted in 2018 and saw more than 800 adults and children take part across two days at Stamford Bridge and Cobham. It will make a welcome return next summer.
With Frank Lampard leading the club’s efforts, we joined up with Kick It Out in 2010 to try and rid the game of the Y-word, and have frequently reiterated since, that what other clubs may deem acceptable from their supporters in the way of personal identification does not alter our position of zero tolerance. This will not change now or in the future.
Since 2007, we have provided an SMS service that makes it easier for supporters inside the stadium to report discriminatory behaviour at matches. That number is 07894 937793 and I urge our fans to use this where appropriate and help us beat the plague that threatens to overshadow the fantastic work this club does for inclusion and equality. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com.
Clearly, there remains a way to go on this journey, but we will not rest until we have eliminated all forms of discrimination from our club. We will continue to work alongside our fans, anti-discrimination organisations and football authorities to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued.
If you do not share these values, this is not the club for you.
We must not allow a small minority of fans to bring further embarrassment upon us, and will continue to take the strongest possible action against them.
I ask our many thousands of match-going supporters and the millions more around the world to work together to help us confront this issue and remove discrimination from our game.
We are determined to win this battle, but we need the backing and action of those who share the principles of this great club.