During Tuesday evening Chelsea vs Juventus Champions League game at Stamford bridge, a delegation from the European Jewish Association presented the Association’s prestigious King David Award for 2021 to Bruce Buck, Chairman of the Chelsea Football Club.
The recognition comes as a result of Chelsea’s ‘’Say No to Antisemitism’’ campaign, funded by club owner Roman Abramovich, which was launched in 2018 to raise awareness of and educate players, staff, fans and the wider community about antisemitism. The long-term initiative forms part of the club’s on-going inclusion work, through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign.
“We are honoured to be the latest recipients of the European Jewish Association’s King David Award,’’ said Bruce Buck who received the award on behalf of his club. ‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,” he added.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association said of the award, “Sport brings out the best in people, but sadly it can also bring out the worst. And some of the worst examples of antisemitism often manifest themselves on the football terraces, and in stadia around the world. Chelsea was, of course, no exception to this rule. Except, that unlike others, they decided to do something about it.’’
“It is truly inspiring to see not only the significant investment made in this effort, but the genuine commitment to listen, to act and to make a difference. From the ground up, from grassroots initiatives to a website visited by millions, Chelsea Football Club has led the way, a shining light and example not just for other football clubs to follow, but for everyone,’’ he said.
He added, ‘’Presenting them with this award, on behalf of the many communities across Europe that we represent is the least we can do to recognise this movement for change that they have started, this ultimate force for good that gives hope to Jews everywhere that the lessons of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and that antisemitism will be called out wherever it manifests itself.’’
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands and chairman of the EJA committee on combatting antisemitism, ‘’ underlined that ‘’the Chelsea model is one to be replicated everywhere, and we will let governments and organisations know about the great and important work you are doing here. King david is a Jewish hero. Chelsea are now heroes to the Jewish community.’’
Lebanese businessman Abdallah Chatila, a recipient of the 2020 King David Award who made headlines worldwide when he bought 600,000 Euro worth of Nazi Memorabilia at an auction and donated it to Jewish organisations as an act of registering his disgust at the auction, and who since has supported many initiatives that combat antisemitism, added:
“Antisemitism targets Jews but infects society as a whole. Ignorance, hatred and xenophobia have no place in a world where borders are increasingly meaningless, where values are universal and where different identities are to be cherished. I am proud to be here tonight at Chelsea, to be a continuing link in a chain of those committed to combatting antisemitism. Chelsea Football Club have a huge reach. They could have opted for an easier route. Instead they decided to tackle the issue head-on. It is inspiring to see. And for others to follow and emulate.”