First, I want to say thank you to Jewish News for giving us the opportunity to reach out and connect with you.
The barbaric acts of terror by Hamas in Israel on the 7 October were a deep shock to us all. Our response was motivated by a desire to unite rather than divide, built on a hope, which we all share, to see peace in the region. We recognise that this is a deeply traumatic time for the Jewish community in the United Kingdom and beyond and we are truly sorry for the hurt our response caused.
The impact of the 7 October terror attacks on the Jewish community is unimaginable, as is the impact of the profoundly worrying rise in antisemitism in England. We have reflected deeply on how football can help to eradicate it. We want football to be a place of safety, consolation, and enjoyment in these dark times and indeed, always.
Our very clear starting point is that there is no place for antisemitism or any discrimination in football. Whether covert or overt, we simply will not tolerate it. Whether it is manifested in words or actions, its impact is hurtful and lasting, and it has absolutely no place in our game or in the lives of our nation.
Football is a game that unites millions of people across the world, and we believe in its ability to bring communities together. For many of us, the friends we enjoy football with originally come from our faith communities, with football and faith interacting as part of our daily lives.
We have much to learn from the team at the Community Security Trust who can help us to understand exactly where and how antisemitic behaviour infiltrates the game.
This includes our Jewish communities, and you should feel welcomed and supported by football at every level of the game. We are proactively looking at what more we can do to ensure that is exactly how you do feel now and for the future.
Following close dialogue with Jewish leaders and football’s anti-discrimination body, Kick It Out, we continue to deepen our understanding of the issues. Sadly, we know that discrimination in the game is under-reported. We have much to learn from the team at the Community Security Trust who can help us to understand exactly where and how antisemitic behaviour infiltrates the game.
We need your help in ensuring it is reported and we are strongly committed to working with our County FAs to ensure that we respond to all incidents promptly, sensitively and with the rigour that will drive positive change.
While listening and understanding is the first thing on our agenda, the second is education and action. We will reinforce our current anti-discrimination work by delivering further antisemitism awareness education with Kick It Out. These sessions will be used to engage throughout the season with those leading and organising the grassroots game, starting early in the new year.
We will support this work with the creation of an antisemitism football taskforce involving key Jewish stakeholders such as Maccabi GB. Our aim is to review our current antisemitism work; measure and monitor progress; and adopt new approaches to respond to the current climate.
This group will take input from across football, including from Jewish players.
Finally, Wembley Stadium will always be a venue where we want everyone from every community to feel at home. In recent years, The FA has hosted many thousands of guests across a variety of faiths at Wembley Stadium and at wider football locations across the country; it’s a great example of how football can bring people together, something we believe in and will always strive for.
We are continuing our ‘Faith and Football Series’ by celebrating Chanukah at Wembley Stadium in December, working closely with Jewish News to deliver the event.
We know we have to earn your trust and hope that over time we can build back our relationships with anyone who felt let down. We warmly welcome you all to join us again to share our common love of football; faith and football in partnership united by our desire for a better future.
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