Bruce Buck: Uefa investigating Chelsea over anti-Semitism was a waste of time

james olley

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has claimed Uefa were “wasting their time” in charging the club following allegations of racist chanting during a Europa League game in December.

The Blues were cleared of any wrongdoing by European football’s governing body last night amid suggestions that a section of the club’s supporters engaged in anti-Semitic abuse during their 2-2 draw against MOL Vidi in Hungary.

No official reason was given for the case being dropped, but it is understood a lack of evidence was a key factor.

Buck believes Uefa were wrong to ever pursue Chelsea on what the club insists were unsubstantiated claims. “The charge in the first place was a waste of time,” he said. “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.

“We know we have problems now and then at Chelsea. One of the things we are trying to do is solve some of the problems we have, but we are not going to solve racism or anti-Semitism. We just like to move the needle a little bit and encourage others to do the same.”

Chelsea have worked hard to tackle the issue and were recognised for their efforts at last night’s London Football Awards, where they won the Community Project of the Year gong for their ‘Say No To Anti-Semitism’ programme.

Buck revealed that the origins of the initiative came from a board meeting in which Jewish owner Roman Abramovich raised his concerns over an alarming rise in discrimination.

“His role was [coming up with] the idea at a board meeting in November 2017 when we went through the agenda,” said Buck. “He mentioned he noticed an increase in anti-Semitic activity over the last few years. He said: “Okay, you guys, we have a charity and there is the power of football. What can we do about this?

“[This award] is good because sponsors are also interested in what their clubs are doing with charities, issues around diversity, and this is nice to show to them, but we haven’t done it for the kudos. We have prepared lots of literature to use to adapt without our logo on it. We’re just trying to get something done.”

(Action Images via Reuters)

The investigation came at a time in which manager Maurizio Sarri is under pressure to keep his job while the club organises an appeal against a FIFA transfer ban which is set to deny them the chance to buy players in the next two transfer windows. But Buck said: “I’ve been at Chelsea for 15 years and I guess I’ve known 15 years like this. When things happen, we deal with it.”

A club spokesperson added later on Friday: “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."