Chelsea unveils mural with Jewish soccer players murdered at Auschwitz

English soccer club also becomes first team to formally adopt IHRA working definition of antisemitism

Chelsea players Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Cesar Azpilicueta (right) and stand in front of the club’s mural commemorating Holocaust victims last week in London (photo credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)
Chelsea players Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Cesar Azpilicueta (right) and stand in front of the club’s mural commemorating Holocaust victims last week in London
(photo credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)
Chelsea FC marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a commemorative mural of Jewish players and prisoners of war who were sent to a Nazi camp.
The mural was unveiled last week on a wall outside of the West Stand at Stamford Bridge and is part of Chelsea’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign being funded by the club’s Russian-Israeli owner, Roman Abramovich.
“By sharing the images of these three individual football players on our stadium, we hope to inspire future generations to always fight against antisemitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck was quoted as saying about the event in a statement on the club’s website.
The mural features three portraits. Julius Hirsch, a German Jewish international footballer, was murdered sometime after 1943 at the Auschwitz Nazi camp in occupied Poland.
Also depicted is Árpád Weisz, a Hungarian Jewish football player who was murdered there in 1944.
The third portrait is of Ron Jones, known as the “Goalkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was a British prisoner of war at Auschwitz. He survived the camp.
In addition, Chelsea has formally adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, becoming the first sports team in the world to do so.
The IHRA working definition states that: “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Having been adopted by the IHRA in 2016, this definition has now been adopted or endorsed by 18 countries, including the UK, at a time when antisemitism is on the rise around the world.
“We believe that adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism is an important statement for our football club,” said Buck. “Although we have been working in accordance with these guidelines for many years now, we hope that by formalizing the IHRA classification, we can further tackle antisemitism and discrimination through better understanding and education.
“Football has an unrivaled ability to do good in society, and we must harness this power to tackle all forms of discrimination in the stands and our communities.”
With the IHRA working definition in place, Chelsea will be ensuring all stewards, staff and fans are aware of the guidelines and what they mean.
“The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance commends Chelsea’s decision to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,” said Dr. Kathrin Meyer, IHRA Executive Secretary. “Football is such a critical part of communities around the world, bringing hundreds of millions of people together. Given the significance of football, it is vital that clubs like Chelsea, that are a role model for so many, demonstrate their commitment to fighting antisemitism so that football continues to be a source of enjoyment and pride, not exclusion and hatred. We look forward to working with more football clubs and sporting organizations around the world as they join us in our fight against antisemitism.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27, a date designated in 2005 by the United Nations. On that day, Red Army troops liberated Auschwitz. This year is the liberation’s 75th anniversary.