The Chelsea Football Club is considering the possibility of sending racist supporters on trips to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz instead of imposing banning orders, The Press Association reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, is at the forefront of the initiative which is designed to tackle anti-Semitism among fans.
Chelsea wishes to offer supporters caught being racist the chance to attend education courses at the Second World War concentration camp in Poland instead of being banned from attending matches at the Premier League club.
“If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck was quoted as having said. “This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.
“In the past we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. Now we say: ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong,’” he added.
Last year, a number of Chelsea fans chanted an anti-Semitic song against rivals Tottenham, leading the British team to plead with fans to ditch the anti-Semitic song.
The previous year, Chelsea fans were filmed singing an anti-Semitic chant on a London subway following the team's victory over Tottenham.
Chelsea fans also pushed a black commuter off a Metro train in Paris in February 2015 ahead of a Champions League tie.
The club sent a delegation to Auschwitz for the annual March of the Living this past April, while 150 staff and supporters went on a day trip in June to the site which once housed Nazi death camps while Poland was under German occupation.
“The trips to Auschwitz were really important and effective and we will consider more as well as other things that will affect people,” said Buck.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust is in favor of the plan, according to The Press Association, while the Football Supporters Federation’ also lent support.
On Wednesday, Chelsea previewed a new film at the Houses of Parliament aimed at raising awareness of the consequences of anti-Semitism, interspersing images of offensive chants and social media posts alongside images from the Holocaust.
Buck told the club’s website, “We are just trying to make a dent in the anti-Semitism in this world. Over time we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”