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Chelsea supporters launch campaign to rid club of racist, antisemitic abuse

Chelsea supporters have launched a new initiative to combat racism and intolerance in response to a series of high-profile incidents that have damaged the club's reputation.

The initiative, "Chelsea Together," consists of 10 fan groups and supporter-run media outlets who have pledged to oppose all forms of discrimination and abuse within the club's fanbase --- including antisemitic chants directed at rivals Tottenham.

Their action comes as Chelsea face a partial stadium closure from UEFA as a result of antisemitic language used by a minority of their away supporters during a Europa League game against Vidi in December.

Chelsea supporters are also the subject of several ongoing police investigations, including one into alleged racist abuse directed at Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and others for alleged antisemitic language and sexual abuse around matches over the festive period.

"We have taken this action without any involvement from Chelsea Football Club, or the football authorities," a statement announcing the initiative said. "We are all passionate about Chelsea; and we all believe that all games should be open to all people of all backgrounds and all beliefs.

"It is unacceptable that anyone should feel they are in any way marginalised as a Chelsea fan, or fearful of attending games, because of discrimination they encounter against what they believe, or the way they were born.

"We want the use of all racist and discriminatory language -- including, for the avoidance of doubt the 'Y-word' -- to end immediately at Chelsea, regardless of what happens at other clubs.

"Even if it is not calculated to be racist, that does not make it any less offensive or hurtful, and it is time for it to stop."

Three men were arrested for allegedly using antisemitic language prior to the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal between Tottenham and Chelsea earlier this month, of which one 23-year-old man remains under investigation.

Chelsea have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of a minority of their supporters in response to recent incidents, with a spokesman stating that those who used antisemitic language during the Vidi game had "shamed the club."

The club's Jewish owner Roman Abramovich has made eradicating antisemitism a personal cause since launching a targeted initiative called "Say No To Antisemitism" a year ago, heightening Chelsea's anger and embarrassment at the recent actions of a minority of their supporters.

Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro was invited to Cobham to address the Chelsea first team squad in January, while the club sent a delegation to attend the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz in April. This was followed in June by an official visit, consisting of 150 supporters and club officials, to the Nazi concentration camp.

Sources told ESPN FC in October that Chelsea are committed to engaging any racist supporters in educational courses rather than imposing blanket bans, and could send low-level offenders on funded trips to Auschwitz as part of their drive to stamp out antisemitism.

In November, Chelsea announced that they will play MLS club New England Revolution in a postseason friendly in May, branded "Game for Change," as part of their campaign against antisemitism. 

Abramovich and Revolution owner Robert Kraft, who is also Jewish, have pledged to donate $1 million (£778,565) to the fight against antisemitism, with all money from ticket sales also going to the cause.

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