On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. (Psalm 12:8)
Chelsea Football Club and The World Jewish Congress recently launched the international Pitch for Hope competition, the first stage of a three-pronged joint initiative on combating the widespread phenomenon of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and anti-Semitism in sports, under the banner Red Card for Hate.
Pitch for Hope calls on young people from Israel, the United States and United Kingdom who are between the ages of 18-23 to submit proposals for a unique and creative project to harness the spirit of camaraderie in sports to help build bridges between peoples of different backgrounds, faiths and walks of life.
In the UK and the US, Chelsea F.C. and the WJC have been reaching out to potential participants representing institutions working toward coexistence, including Jewish and Muslim organizations, as well as leading educational institutes. In Israel, the competition will draw participants from across the country’s diverse population spectrum – including Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze, to include minority groups in the peripheral north and south of the country. Seven institutions are scheduled to take part in the Israeli competition, with a focus on the visual arts.
Finalists will be invited to present their proposals at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London to a panel of judges representing the WJC and the soccer club in September. The winners from each country will receive a $10,000 grant from Chelsea F.C. and the World Jewish Congress to develop and implement their pilot project.
Next year, the competition is set to be expanded to Germany and France, following high-demand from football clubs across Europe.
This initiative was made possible due to a generous contribution from Chelsea F.C.’s owner Roman Abramovich and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.
WJC CEO Robert Singer said: “Anti-Semitism is as dangerous in the sporting world as it is in civil society, and both are growing at alarming rates. It is our duty, as fans and as teams alike, to work together to put an immediate stop to this phenomenon.”
Chelsea F.C. Chairman Bruce Buck said: “We hope that our joint initiative will start a process that we believe is vital and long overdue. Change does not happen overnight, it takes time, education and understanding, and therefore we have devised the initiative as a long-term project that will grow and build, and hopefully inspire other clubs to follow our lead and create their own anti-Semitism initiatives, as well as working together with us on joint campaigns and activities.”