Premier League to Adopt IHRA Definition

by Chris Gibbons

In recent years, football clubs across the professional and grassroots English game have become more vocal about diversity, inclusion and anti-discrimination in all its forms, including antisemitism. Initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive game have included:

  • the development of robust equality policies;
  • sanctions frameworks for addressing discrimination when it occurs;
  • education and awareness-raising for players, coaches, officials and the wider football workforce, including stewards and security; and
  • working in partnership with experts on discrimination.

As part of this developing work, at the beginning of 2020, and as part of its Say No To Antisemitism campaign, Chelsea FC became the first English club to adopt the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism. Adopting the definition has helped it send a clear message of its commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive club for the Jewish community and also to take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism whether in the stands, on the pitch, social media or anywhere else across the club life. AFC Bournemouth and West Ham subsequently followed the example of Chelsea FC and adopted the working definition.

At the end of 2020, as part of its on-going work with its 20 clubs, the Premier League also adopted the definition, along with many Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City. And on Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, the English FA and the EFL (which represents the 72 clubs beneath the Premier League) both did the same.

As well as demonstrating a cross-game commitment, a collective adoption of this definition should help ensure a consistent approach to recognising and addressing antisemitism in all its forms, as well as preventing it from happening again in the future. Moreover, when football uses the power of its platform to champion diversity and inclusion for all, this should have a positive impact on communities and wider society.

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