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New England Revolution planning Chelsea friendly to combat anti-Semitism

Robert and Jonathan Kraft
May 21, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution owners Robert Kraft (left) and Jonathan Kraft look on before the game between the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution are in the early stages of organizing an exhibition match with Chelsea for next spring.

Revolution owner/investor Robert Kraft said the Revs will play Chelsea to “raise awareness of the evils of anti-Semitism as well as to raise significant funds to combat it.” 

Kraft announced his intention to host the friendly at the World Jewish Congress in New York last Wednesday. Both Kraft and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich are Jewish. Kraft said he and Abramovich will donate $1 million of their own money to the cause, along with all the proceeds from the match’s ticket sales. Abramovich will also launch a “Say No to Anti-Semitism” campaign at the start of 2019.

A spokesman for the Revolution told Pro Soccer USA the clubs are working to schedule the exhibition match, but nothing is confirmed yet. The match would reportedly take place in New England, according to ESPN.

Friendly matches are a somewhat rare occurrence for New England, which hasn’t had one midseason since 2011 when it played Manchester United to a 4-1 loss at Gillette Stadium.

However, the Revolution have played Malmö of Sweden in both the 2014 and 2018 preseasons.

Since their inception in 1996, the Revs have also played exhibition matches against Sporting CP, Benfica, Celtic and Fiorentina.

For now, both sides appear to be stuck on a few logistical details. Kraft has allegedly told Abramovich that he can only accommodate the friendly at Gillette Stadium in the spring. Chelsea’s only apparent availability during that time is during an international break from March 19-27.

Chelsea would presumably be missing some of their biggest stars for the match due to national team call-ups.

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