WJC and Chelsea tackle discrimination in sport

By Soul Sport

PITCH FOR HOPE is the initial phase of the three-prong ‘Red Card for Hate’ initiative launched by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and Chelsea FC, in June of this year.


The second and third phases will roll out at a later stage. Phase two will be a video production series to raise awareness about the effects of antisemitism and discrimination, to be rolled out over the course of the 2018/19 football season. Phase three will be a special Chelsea and WJC hosted forum in mid-2019, bringing together national football associations, clubs and players, government officials and representatives of civil society, to network, share and collaborate to enhance the fight against antisemitism in sports.

Pitch for Hope


Participants aged 18 to 23 from three countries - the UK, the USA and Israel - were invited to submit a project initiative aimed at combating discrimination, using a sports angle.


The winners chosen from each region were then invited to the finals held at Stamford Bridge in London to present their initiatives before a panel of judges. The winners from each country received a $10,000 grant from Chelsea and the World Jewish Congress to develop and implement their pilot project.

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The winners from Israel were Idan Amos, Michael Shapira and Raveh Shahar Tirosh, students at the Benjamin Rothman Emek Yaffe High School in the Gilboa Valley. Their idea was to create a line of shirts and scarves for football fans, displaying the logos and symbols of opposing teams on a single item of clothing, in order to draw rivals together in a spirit of camaraderie.


In New York, Seren Fryatt of Washington D.C. who in collaboration with Alyssa Chassman, were named the USA winners. And in the UK, Nick Spooner of Sheffield, came out as the winner with his "Know The Score” proposal.


At the Stamford Bridge finals the contestants were treated to a spectacular evening and were asked to put their best pitch forward. The X-Factor-like event was thrilling and nerve-racking. The ideas and presentations were creative and out-the-box. After much deliberation, the overall winner was chosen - Nick Spooner of the UK! 


Soul Sport interviewed Nick Spooner as well as NY winners Seren Fryatt and Alyssa Chassman to discuss their ideas and how they will be challenging the scourge of discrimination through their brilliant initiatives.

Seren Fryatt & Alyssa Chassman


Seren, you founded L.A.C.E.S. which put you in-line to link up to the Chelsea/WJO initiative. What is L.A.C.E.S.?


Seren: L.A.C.E.S. leverages the power of sport to help at-risk children. We focus on Liberia. We mainly deal with former child soldiers, Ebola victim orphans, stray children and, in the USA, with recently resettled refugees.



The WJO/Chelsea initiative…you went for it. Tell us about that?


Seren: As a social reform organisation, WJO/Chelsea invited L.A.C.E.S. to participate in this initiative. My friend Alyssa runs a brilliant platform which I thought could work here, so I reached out to her to partner me. 


So Alyssa, you get a call from Seren to collaborate. How are you positioned to be the partner here?


Alyssa: I work with specialised social media software technology and run a project called the Unite 20/30 projects, which are social impact projects. Seren’s idea was for our Pitch For Hope initiative to be modelled on this, but to angle it specifically so as to tackle discrimination in sports.

WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Rob

WJC CEO Robert Singer flanked by Seren Fryatt (Left) and Alyssa ChassmanPicture- Gary Perlmutter 


Seren, what sparked the idea to invite Alyssa and her Unite 20/30 model as the selected platform?


Seren: Both Chelsea and WJC are global reach organisations so any project they support should be ambitious in scope and have a global imprint. I wanted to leverage Chelseas and a sports worldwide interest base to maximise this initiative - to have a big idea that could involve many people collaborating to find a solution to combat discrimination through sport. This is Alyssa’s strength!


Alyssa, please run us through the idea?


Alyssa: We use a Hackathon approach to address discrimination in sport. It is an on-line collaboration of 100 people from across the globe, from 70 different countries. We will have a sign-up period. We will choose 100 people.They will be divided into 20 groups of five. These groups will brainstorm ways as to how they can come up with solutions to meet the challenge of discrimination in sport.


The Hackathon will be a 48 hour engagement. We will facilitate educational workshops for the 100 participants on the subject of discrimination in sports. We will guide them on their quest. We will bring in keynote speakers to empower and motivate them and have a panel of experts to answer questions. 


Eventually, each group will come up with an action plan to pitch to our panel of judges, who will pick the top five. These top five will reconvene to refine their ideas further and pitch it again to our judges. A winner will be chosen and their initiative will be taken forward to the activation level with our support.


All this is on-line?


Alyssa: Yes, except the final activation of the winning group, which will be a hands-on, tangible rolled out project. The rest is on-line. The on-line platform we will use for this is the Zoom platform. It has the capabilities of doing all the above. It can bring a 100 people together and enable breakout sessions of the groups etc.


100 people from 70 countries. How does the diversification enhance the goal?


Seren: By the participants being in various countries, it will give value-added insight into the challenge, as this scourge manifests in different ways in different countries. Participants can share their unique knowledge of discrimination in sport and together a more comprehensive solution can be sought.

Who will be eligible to sign up for the Hackathon?


Alyssa: Participants between ages 18-30 can apply. All they need is a computer, an internet connection and a desire and commitment to be part of a group project that tackles discrimination in sport which they are prepared to take to action.


Once the winning group is chosen, how will they implement their idea?


Seren: We have established a partnership for this project with a charity incubator called Launch 22. The Winning team will be mentored by them as to how to fundraise for their project. 


How was your experience of the Pitch For Hope process?


Seren/Alyssa: We submitted our idea to the Pitch for Hope challenge in NY. We were told we were selected as one of the top five finalists. We polished our idea and went off to NY. We had 7-10 minutes to pitch it with a multi-media two minute video and a talk that explained what we hope to achieve. We were announced the winners! We then went to London for the Pitch For Hope grand gathering and final and had an incredible time.

Nick Spooner


Pitch For Hope is a social change project - how did you come across it?


Nick: I’m in the social change industry so I heard about it. I work for Hope Not Hate, an organisation which works along a similar agenda to the Pitch For Hope project.


Tell us a bit about Hope Not Hate?


Nick: Hope Not Hate uses research, education and public engagement to challenge mistrust and racism and helps to build communities that are inclusive, who celebrate diversity and break down unhealthy barriers such as xenophobia and racism between people and communities.

WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Rob

WJC CEO Robert Singer, Nick Spooner & Chelsea Foundations Simon Taylor. Picture- Gary Perlmutter 

Your idea won the PFH contest. Tell us about it?


Nick: I called the initiative ‘Know The Score’. Things have radically altered the way the far right mobilise and organise. It is happening extensively on-line and influencing people’s views. Groups with prejudiced agendas are reaching out on-line, rallying support and growing a following. The project I pitched is aimed to find, expose and counter respond to this.


That sounds great, but how do you plan on doing it?


Nick: The project has three components to it. Firstly, the project will be activated on university campuses around the country (England).


The project itself has 3 prongs:


  1. Use sophisticated on-line research data modelling software to track hateful content on line.

  2. Convene classes on campuses which will educate the students, giving them a head start about what narratives and hateful agendas are being pushed out there. Phase 1 and 2 will be done simultaneously.

  3. Finally, workshops will be held to train the students: a) how to critically asses a hate narrative b) what counter responses to use c) how to communicate effectively d) how to be emotionally resilient in the process


How will you get the universities to co-operate?


Nick: We have an existing relationship with universities. There is also an obvious tie-in with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) which are on several campuses who will support this initiative. 


How will you get students to attend the workshops and classes?


Nick: We will seek to appoint ambassadors on campuses to mobilise people to come to the workshops, especially people that aren’t necessarily sharing the perspective. There will be incentives for people to attend these workshops.


What is the sports angle?

Nick: We’re reaching into the sports-mindedness of our youth. Over 10% of 18-24 year olds polled support a political party that is founded by a soccer hooligan. We would tap into the positive sense of tribalism that comes through sports groups and are also part of a campus group.


How was your experience of the competition?


Nick: It was like X-Factor for anti-racists! It was pretty nerve-racking, but super friendly! I met and chatted with other contestants, they were all really great. The evening was exciting and exhilarating. Meeting with the WJC and working with them is an honour and I am looking forward to making a difference with Pitch For Hope.