Chelsea comes to Israel reconcile Arabs and Jews

Chelsea spokesperson: Motivation for reconciliation effort abroad stems, in part, from Chelsea's worldwide renown.

chelsea 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
chelsea 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
With hopes of promoting peaceful coexistence, 20 players and staff from London's Chelsea Football Club came to Israel on Tuesday to help out at a soccer academy for Jewish and Arab children. The team will host a clinic on Thursday and Friday for the children at the David Lewis Center in Jaffa. Several reserve players have come with Chelsea, which will be here until Friday, including the Israeli youth prospect Ben Sahar, who has spent the season on loan at Queen's Park Rangers. The group will stay in Tel Aviv and do work in Amman as well. Chelsea spokesman Simon Taylor told The Jerusalem Post that, although this is the club's first effort at bringing hostile communities together abroad, it has engaged in similar work in south London, near where the team is based. "We bring people from different gangs or cultures together. We've got a long and proud history of providing football in our own community," said Taylor, saying he believes football is "a useful tool in bringing people together." According to Taylor, the motivation for taking the reconciliation effort abroad stems, in part, from Chelsea's worldwide renown. "As Chelsea becomes a more recognized football club, we want to take our work to a different level," he said. "As a popular club Chelsea is in a unique position to do that." Despite this being a new endeavor, Taylor does not expect the team to face many challenges that it hasn't encountered while working in Britain. "There are challenges wherever you go," said Taylor. "The work we do is not a stand alone project. We hope to build on the great [reconciliation] work that's been achieved on all levels." While working with the children, Chelsea will also host a clinic for Israeli and Arab coaches in the region, which Taylor expects to be beneficial for Chelsea as well. "We're hoping not just to enter an area and then leave but learn from the coaches," he said. "Hopefully we can educate them in the way we do things. It's a mutually beneficial relationship."