On Nov. 30, the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, announced that it would partner with English Premier League giant Chelsea Football Club to play a friendly soccer match at Gillette Stadium to combat anti-Semitism. The match, entitled the “Final Whistle on Hate,” will kick off in Foxborough on Wednesday, May 15 at 8 p.m.
Chelsea will travel stateside to face the Revs at the end of the Premier League season as a part of the Blues’ ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ campaign. Both Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the Kraft family have strong ties to Jewish communities across the globe and will each donate $1 million in addition to all proceeds from the match, towards international community programs that combat anti-Semitism.
Recent events in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed and seven more were injured in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in October, and San Diego, where one person was killed and three were injured in April, serve as a reminder, yet again, that anti-Semitism is an on-going issue, and instances across Europe continue to rise.
“I am proud of the work Chelsea does to promote equality and tackle discrimination all over the world,” Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich said. “The Say No To anti-Semitism campaign has already achieved so much in raising awareness of this important issue, but there remains a lot of work to do. I am delighted to join forces with New England Revolution and the Kraft family in this initiative and we look forward to the match.”
In early November, the Kraft family was honored with the World Jewish Congress’s (WJC) Teddy Kolleck Award at the World Jewish Congress’ Theodor Herzl Award dinner in New York. In his remarks accepting the award, Revolution owner Robert Kraft spoke about how he has been privileged to see the power of sports bring people together and break down barriers. Reflecting on the victims of the tragedy in Pittsburgh, he pledged to further his efforts to help combat anti-Semitism and all hate crimes.
“It’s clear we need to do more to help combat anti-Semitism and all hate crimes in the wake of ongoing discrimination around the world, including the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh,” Kraft said. “We’re excited for the Revolution to host Chelsea in support of raising awareness of the dangerous manifestations of anti-Semitism. All proceeds from the match will be dedicated to initiatives to combat hate crimes.”
Chelsea launched the ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ campaign in January of 2018 to raise awareness of and educate the club’s players, staff, fans and the wider community about anti-Semitism in football. Since then, the club has worked with leading figures and authorities around the world to help spread the message that anti-Semitism, and indeed any form of discrimination, has no place in football or our communities.
In addition to the match itself, both the Revolution and Chelsea will take part in the “March of the Living” event in Poland, held annually in remembrance of the Holocaust, on Thursday, May 2. The teams’ participation in the march will be the latest activity in a continuing series of commitments both organizations have made as part of a joint effort between Mr. Abramovich and the Kraft family to harness the power of sport to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination around the world.
The “March of the Living” is an annual event that brings people from around the world together to explore the history of the Holocaust, with an expected 10,000 people marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II.
Last year, Chelsea FC was the first Premier League club to ever send a delegation to the “March of the Living.” This year, Chelsea FC will be joined by the Revolution, whose participation will represent the first appearance by a US. team. Participating from Chelsea will be Director Eugene Tenenbaum, CEO Guy Laurence, former manager Avram Grant, and club ambassador Steve Redgrave, while participants from the Revolution include President Brian Bilello and Club Ambassador Charlie Davies.
“The New England Revolution are honored to join the March of the Living this year to recognize the legacy of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust,” said Revolution President Brian Bilello. “With prejudice and hate crimes on the rise, we feel it’s important to use our voice to help combat discrimination of any kind and we are proud to partner with Chelsea to help promote equality and tolerance.”
All proceeds of the “Final Whistle on Hate” match will go towards raising funds for projects promoting equality and tolerance. The match’s primary beneficiaries will include the World Jewish Congress, the Tree of Life synagogue, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Holocaust Educational Trust.