March of the Living is an international event where each year thousands of people walk the three kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau, retracing the March of Death taken by countless Jewish people on their way from the largest concentration camp in World War II to the gas chambers.
Representatives from the Football Association, the English Football League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, and clubs Chelsea and Watford took up Kick It Out’s invitation to join March of the Living UK’s three-day educational programme as part of its continued work to tackle antisemitism in football.
The trip involved visiting the old synagogue of Dabrowa Tarnowska and exploring the Jewish quarter of Krakow to learn about the vibrancy of Jewish life in Poland before hearing from Holocaust survivors and visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Monday.
The March of the Living on Tuesday proved to be an unforgettable experience for the Kick It Out delegation, ending in a memorial service for all those who were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Kick It Out trustee Lord Mann said: “We have learnt how vital it is that we continue to educate the world on where hatred can lead, if left unchallenged.
“It has been a privilege for us to take part in this important programme especially on Yom Hashoah and to hear first-hand testimonies from Holocaust survivors.”
EFL Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion David McArdle said: “It was humbling to be invited as part of Kick It Out delegation’s and experience the March of the Living. It was an incredibly moving experience and one that will stay with me.
“There is no place for antisemitism or any form of discrimination in football or society and while tangible progress has been made, there is undoubtedly more to be done. The work of Kick It Out and other organisations is hugely important and will continue to inform and drive the work we do at the EFL to help make further progress.”
Chelsea Foundation’s Campaign and Strategy Lead Gabriella Wilkinson added: “Chelsea FC and Chelsea Foundation are proud to be part of Kick It Out’s delegation at this year’s March of the Living.
“Having taken our own delegations of fan groups, academy players and colleagues to Auschwitz and March of the Living in the past, we understand the importance of visiting Holocaust sites of remembrance and the power they have to educate on the dangers of where hate can lead.
“It has been an honour to attend this year’s trip with other clubs, individuals and organisations working across football, all of whom share our vision of a game free from antisemitism and discrimination. Thank you to Kick It Out and March of the Living for a remarkable trip - we look forward to our continued work together.”
Imagery: Sam Churchill