Gathered with his Chelsea directors, Roman Abramovich stopped the football talk to raise deep concerns.

This was in November 2017, and Abramovich was alarmed by a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, particularly in Britain — and even in his own stadium. Rather than just focusing on trophies, the Premier League club’s Jewish owner believed Chelsea could be a force for social change, to transform the minority of fans hurling abuse at Stamford Bridge.

“We’re just sitting, talking … and he brought up what he had noticed and what he was concerned about,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck recalled in an interview with The Associated Press, “and of course everyone said he’s someone that can do something about it.”

For more than a year, Chelsea has been working with Jewish organizations to harness the power and influence of the world’s biggest sport to promote a more inclusive environment at games and, more broadly, educate new generations about the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

A group from the club, including academy players, has visited the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. A Holocaust survivor, Harry Spiro , addressed the first team squad about the horrors of the Buchenwald and Theresienstadt camps.

“I thought they’d be on their iPhones,” Buck recalled. “He told his story for about 45 minutes and every single player and every single coach sat there mesmerized.”

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day last month, players, including Eden Hazard, were featured in a video urging the world, “We Remember.”

“They’re role models,” Buck said, “so we hope some of these stupid fans, and there are a few out there, realize that these are my role models.”

It’s a work in progress that has layers of complexity.

UEFA disciplinary officials on Thursday will decide how to punish Chelsea for anti-Semitic chants made by fans during a Europa League game in Hungary in December against Vidi. Chelsea could be forced to play a game behind closed doors without any fans.

The Chelsea fans were chanting “Yid,” a derogatory term for Jewish people. What muddies complaints is the fact that fans of crosstown rival Tottenham, which has traditionally drawn a large fan base from the Jewish communities in London, call themselves the “Yid Army.” For decades the Y-word has been deployed as a call to arms by Tottenham followers.

But when Chelsea fans have hurled the Y-word — particularly during games against Tottenham — there has also been hissing, mimicking Nazi gas chambers. With Chelsea hosting its London rival on Wednesday night in the Premier League, fresh warnings have been issued for fans to cut out the antisemitism that has tarnished past derbies.

“There is a particular problem with the Y-word,” Buck said. “We think the use of the Y-word by Spurs supporters, or by anybody, is wrong. It’s very confusing … because UEFA thinks it’s wrong and are charging our fans. … We’re trying to say there shouldn’t be a ban.”

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