Chelsea Football Club, one of the world’s top soccer clubs, owned by now-Israeli citizen Roman Abramovich, and the World Jewish Congress on Monday launched the international Pitch for Hope competition, the first stage of a three-pronged joint initiative on combating widespread racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and anti-Semitism in sports, under the banner “Red Card for Hate.”
A red card is issued by the referee during a soccer match to a player whose behavior was violent enough to justify immediate removal from the field.
Pitch for Hope is an incubator program calling on young people ages 18-23 in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel to submit proposals for a unique and creative project to harness the spirit of comradery in sports to build bridges between people of all backgrounds and faiths.
In the UK and the US, Chelsea FC 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.
The competition in Israel will draw on participants from all socio-economic groups and religions – including Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze. 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 FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London to a panel of judges representing the WJC and Chelsea FC in September. The winners from each country will receive a $10,000 grant to develop and implement their pilot project.
The competition will expand to Germany and France for a following round next year, in response to high-demand from soccer clubs across Europe.