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UEFA was right to look into Chelsea chanting, says Kick It Out

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has supported UEFA’s investigation of alleged anti-Semitic chanting by Chelsea supporters, after the club’s chairman Bruce Buck described the case as “a waste of time”.

UEFA ended disciplinary proceedings against Chelsea on Thursday for the chanting, which was alleged to have taken place during the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Hungary’s Vidi in Budapest on December 13.

Buck expressed frustration this week that UEFA had investigated the issue, which he described as “almost nothing”, given its perceived inaction on other issues.

Bruce Buck

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck with a London Football Awards prize for the club’s ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ campaign (Action Images/PA)

Kick It Out said in a statement to Press Association Sport: “Kick It Out will always support football’s governing bodies taking allegations of anti-Semitism seriously, investigating thoroughly and taking action where appropriate – regardless of the number of people alleged to have been involved.”

Buck told the London Evening Standard on Friday: “The charge in the first place was a waste of time. Almost nothing happened.

“I really thought they were wasting their time, effort and manpower on something like this and missing some of the big pictures.”

Chelsea launched a campaign in January 2018 to raise awareness and educate about anti-Semitism in football, vowing to take a zero tolerance approach.

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The club’s efforts were acknowledged at the London Football Awards on Thursday, where they won the Community Project of the Year gong for their ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ programme.

The incident in Budapest came just a few days after Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police opened investigations into alleged racist abuse directed towards Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. The Blues suspended four supporters as a result.

The club, including owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, expressed their condemnation of the alleged chanting in Budapest with a strongly-worded statement on the night of the alleged chants.

Groupama Arena

Chelsea supporters’ behaviour at the Groupama Arena in Budapest was investigated by UEFA (Matt McGeehan/PA)

Chelsea faced a minimum penalty of a partial stadium closure and the club believe UEFA acted too hastily, despite their own statement at the time.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “It is of course hugely important that allegations of discriminatory behaviour are investigated.

“It is a subject this club takes extremely seriously, as evidenced by all of our public statements and our ongoing work and campaigns in this area.

“We welcome UEFA’s decision in this case but our frustration and the chairman’s frustration which he expressed after the decisions was that they rushed to charge before conducting a full investigation.

“Charging early only added to the media furore and speculation around the allegations and possible sanctions.”