Stamford Bridge played host this week to the inaugural awards ceremony for Chelsea FC’s and the World Jewish Congress’s Red Card for Hate initiative, aimed at combating antisemitism and other forms of discrimination in sport
The Pitch for Hope competition called on young people aged 18 to 30 in the UK, United States and Israel to propose creative ideas to harness the spirit of comradery in sport and build bridges between people of all backgrounds, faiths and walks of life.
The initiative began at the end of April and the winners from the USA and Israel were confirmed earlier this month in New York and Tel Aviv respectively, with the UK winner named on Wednesday night in London.
All the winners were subsequently invited to present their ideas at the Bridge in front of club directors Bruce Buck and Eugene Tenenbaum, WJC CEO Robert Singer and many others including Chelsea Academy players Clinton Mola, Jon Russell and Marcel Lavinier (pcitured below) as the club continues to educate our players and staff on antisemitism in football.
The three winners will now receive £7,500 ($10,000) to implement their ideas, while the second- and third-placed groups in each country also received a cash prize due to the quality of the entries. The winning students will also be guests of the club for this weekend’s game with Manchester United.
This initiative was made possible due to a generous contribution from Blues owner Roman Abramovich and World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder and forms part of the ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign launched by the club in January.
The winning idea in the UK came from Nick Spooner of Sheffield, for his proposal, ‘Know The Score: Tackling Online Radicalisation and Offline Hate.’
His project is expected to extend to 12 universities, featuring three core points: using in-depth research and data-monitoring software to track hateful content online; engaging in in-depth research to give students the tools to critically asses what counter-narratives to use to push back against hate, and what language to use to be the most effective, as well as how to be emotionally resilient; and bringing students into the online counter-narrative community.
Spooner, who serves as the digital organiser of the Hope Not Hate activist community, said: ‘Massive thanks to Chelsea and the WJC for this opportunity. With this project, we’re really looking forward to equipping the next generation of students with the tools to fight prejudice and discrimination of any kind both on their campuses and off.
In New York, Seren Fryatt of Washington DC and Alyssa Chassman of London were named as the winning team with their idea of a global hackathon designed to engage individuals from far-flung parts of the world. Each participant will be given a prompt to create a solution to solve racism and antisemtism within the world of sport. As a result, there will be 20 new projects that come to fruition.
Chassman said: ‘We are incredibly proud to have won the competition. We have also been privileged enough to see so many other great pitches, in the US and UK, and it shows how determined the next generation are to make a change for good. Pitch for Hope and what Chelsea and the WJC are doing should be applauded.’
The winning idea in Tel Aviv came from Idan Amos, Michael Shapira, and Raveh Shahar Tirosh, students at the Benjamin Rothman Emek Yaffe High School, who had the idea to create a line of shirts and scarves for fans, displaying the logos and symbols of opposing teams on a single item of clothing, in order to draw rivals together in a spirit of comradery.
WJC CEO and executive vice-president Robert Singer congratulated the winners and each of the participants for their efforts and ideas, he said: ‘World Jewish Congress and Chelsea launched this initiative with the hope that by engaging young leaders, and supporting your energy, vision and ambition, we might truly be able to change the discourse about racism and antisemitism in sports.
‘The proposals are even more powerful than we expected and give us serious optimism that one day we will actually see a sporting world free of hatred. We wish the winners the best of luck in their endeavours and will continue to stand beside you to help turn our collective dream into reality.’
The competition is the first stage of Chelsea and the WJC’s three-pronged Red Card for Hate initiative, and part of the club’s overall ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign, launched in January at Stamford Bridge. Red Card for Hate will continue in the next stage with a video series and culminate next spring in Paris with a global summit of ministers and sporting officials from around the world.
Click on Pitch for Hope to find out more.