Borussia Dortmund is part of the “Changing the Chants” project

Borussia Dortmund, together with international partners, is developing guidelines for tackling anti-Semitism in football.

In collaboration with Anne Frank Haus Amsterdam, the Fare network (Football Against Racism in Europe) and the Dutch first division team Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund is developing guidelines for tackling anti-Semitism in football. The project is funded by the European Commission.

The project partners are supported by a team of European experts who support the work with their expertise in a wide range of areas. As part of the “Changing the Chants” project, BVB carried out several pilot projects, which were scientifically supported and evaluated. The first building block was the organisation of an educational trip for fans to Oświęcim, Poland, and to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial, which was considered a blueprint for an education project by Feyenoord. Based on the dedicated work in the Netherlands and the model project run by Feyenoord, BVB developed a new city tour, which linked the history of BVB with important places in Jewish life and the Nazi persecution in Dortmund.

An important part of the CtC project is working with different target groups. While BVB are aiming its projects in particular at opinion influencers and interested fans without age restrictions, Feyenoord are taking the approach of addressing fans who had previously been struck by anti-Semitic chants during football matches or who were banned from stadiums due to other offences.

In the Netherlands, anti-Semitic songs are unfortunately still regularly heard, especially during games against Ajax. This is based Ajax’s supposed history as a “Jewish” club – an idea without any historical basis. The police and the judiciary, but also the clubs themselves, are very keen to take action against this, and fines and stadium bans are often pronounced against identified fans as a result of these chants.

Feyenoord and the Anne Frank Haus Amsterdam became active when they were involved in a project several years ago. With the approach of “restorative justice”, fans are to be able to reduce fines by participating in an educational program with various modules.

When it comes to anti-discrimination work involving fans, it is very difficult to transfer or “copy” the approaches practised in different countries. Part of BVB’s commitment to the “Changing the Chants” project was therefore bringing about a discussion with experts from science and practice to discuss the concept of “restorative justice” for the Bundesliga. The group consisted of people from the fields of social sciences and the prevention of right-wing extremism. Representatives of Jewish organisations and participants from the field of legal sciences were also involved.

In addition to the pilot projects, “good practice” examples of the fight against anti-Semitism from all over Europe were collected and evaluated as part of the comprehensive research conducted. The various activities will be translated into a handout together with guidelines for the development of new measures as part of the project, which will be published at the end of the project. The aim is to inspire and encourage football fans and clubs throughout Europe to commit to the cause. The CtC project will thus make an important and unique contribution to the fight against anti-Semitism in European football.

The overall results of the project will be presented at a final conference, which is expected to take place in September 2021 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Further information is available here.

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