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Tottenham’s own anti-Semitic chants. Illegal, or just a defence against something far worse?

By Tony Attwood

I am not one of those people who believe that Tottenham Hotspur is somehow an evil institution whose supporters are seriously demented.  My view has always been, we support who we support generallyby chance, in my case because both my parents, and both sets of grandparents supported Arsenal.  I had no choice.  That is what I was born into.

As such I have friends and acquaintances who support other clubs, and we get on fine, generally managing to have interesting conversations about how they see the successes and failures of their club as I seek to find out if they have equivalents of the AAA and the like.

But on one issue I have endlessly been critical of Tottenham, and that is over their failure to deal with the homophobic behaviour of some of their supporters – most especially in relation to Sol Campbell after his transfer.   It was not just a case of abuse of a man, but the level and style of the abuse that I felt went so far beyond what is acceptable, that Tottenham (who sold the tickets to the people who were chanting and were captured on video) must have known who these people were.

And if a Tottenham supporters want to point out similar behaviour by Arsenal in not dealing with racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic behaviour I’d stand alongside them.  My view is that at football matches, you can expect the language of the street – that is part of the deal.  If you don’t want to hear a chant of “Fergie’s rent boy” then don’t go.

But there is a difference between that and the chanting that Sol Campbell had to endure.  In short, somewhere there is a limit.  Our argument is probably mostly about where the line is drawn.

There is however another issue, and I have touched on it before.  The use of the word “Yid”.   I was brought up in north London at a time when the word “Yid” was widely used, and indeed I recall my father (who never swore, and never made any racist comments) calling members of the Jewish faith, “Yids”.  And I would add that my father faithfully served his country in the second world war in the fight against fascism and its anti-Semitic policies.  He didn’t spit at them, boycott their shops, jeer those members of the faith who always wear particular style clothes etc etc.  He didn’t discriminate – he just used that word.

So I suppose I start from the position that “Yid” is not that awful a word.  In fact as a child I probably considered it a word like “Yob” – meaning a rude teenager.   Just a slang word.  What makes the matter even more difficult is that there are quite a few (I have no idea what proportion it represents) of Tottenham fans who call themselves the Yid Army.

Arsenal on the other had got rid of any use of the word Yid at Highbury some years ago, although inaction by the stewards now means that it has come back, and can be regularly heard.  At away games it is fairly central to the chanting.

Now the Society of Black Lawyers have become involved and threatened to make a complaint to police over claims that anti-Semitic abuse is taking place at White Hart Lane.  Tottenham Hotspur, most interestingly, have come down on the side of their supporters.

Peter Herbert, of the Society of Black Lawyers, recently said, “It does not make a difference if it is Tottenham fans doing the chants or away fans – if they continue to do it we will report it to the police. There has to be zero tolerance and if that catches out Spurs then so be it.   If neither Tottenham FC nor the FA are willing to take a stand then SBL will report the matter to the Metropolitan Police Service for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution. The report will be made if this behaviour does not cease by 20 November. We will have monitors in attendance to observe what occurs.”

I have a real problem here because while I fully accept that many words are utterly unacceptable anywhere anytime because of their racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic history, where a word is in common use life gets more complex.

Tottenham’s response that they have a defence because Tottenham fans have  been subject to taunts about the Holocaust really doesn’t work for me.  I can’t see how you can say, “they say nasty things about us, so we can use our own words in defence”.  If that is so, anyone can say anything.

Tottenham said, “Our guiding principle in respect of the ‘Y-word’ is based on the point of law itself – the distinguishing factor is the intent with which it is used – if it is used with the deliberate intention to cause offence. This has been the basis of prosecutions of fans of other teams to date. “Our fans adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any offence, they use it as a chant amongst themselves.

“The club believes that real anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers is the real evil and the real offence. We believe this is the area that requires a determined and concerted effort from all parties and where we seek greater support to eradicate.”

There is a lot in that, and Tottenham’s position would be unassailable if they had acted seriously to stop the abuse by their supporters of Sol Campbell and by extension anyone suspected of being gay.   But the infamous incident at Portsmouth where substantial numbers of supporters kept up the chant all the way through the evening match and were filmed, and had bought their tickets through the club, suggests there is a certain laxness about Tottenham here.

But I would say also, there is a laxness at Arsenal too.  Arsenal has family enclosures, where one might hope that extremely foul language was not being shouted out by supporters around and about.  Otherwise what is the point of the family enclosure in an all seater stadium?  (Actually the whole family enclosure system at Arsenal is a nonsense since anyone over 65 who wants to get a discount as a result of being a pensioner has to go into the family enclosure!!!).

I did complain on behalf of a friend recently, and was told that anything heard should be report to a steward.  But that is nonsense.  The stewards were a few feet away and could hear the word C*** as well as the anti-Semitic words all the time.   Why did it need a supporter to complain?  They should have been taking action.

I don’t suggest there is any simple answer here.  Tottenham’s response within itself is valid – its own supporters use the offensive word as a means of self-defence – and that in itself is a clever defensive use of language.  Arsenal has no real comparison.  We started out in the 19th century with the team being called “The Reds” and the fans being called the Gunners.   By the inter-war years the team and fans were called the Gunners.   Sometime around the 1980s the hard-core fans (the nearest we had to Ultras) became the Gooners.  Now we are all Gooners.  Not an offensive word anywhere.

There is a further problem.  At the Portsmouth v Tottenham game there was filming of all the Tottenham supporters going on, and they all had bought their tickets from Tottenham, so they could be identified, and could have been arrested for homophobic and offensive behaviour.  The police and the club were all guilty of a dereliction of duty.

But at many games this is not so easy.   At the average Arsenal away game there is singing about the profession of the mother of whoever happens to be the Tottenham manager.  Is that to be allowed or not?   And there are several chants that end with a fading out of “Yid-do Yid-do”.  Is that to be criminalised?

And what of Liverpool fans doing airplane impersonations in reference to the Munich disaster?  And I suspect there is a Man U equivalent relating to Heysel stadium, reserved for Liverpool fans.

I have no idea of the answer – only that there are some extreme positions which should be prosecuted.  But I am just not sure where lines are drawn.

Football has always been the game of the people, and by and large people are quite often thoroughly unpleasant.   We live under a government that seems in total denial that there is any such thing as social pressure which makes people behave in unpleasant ways, so they are left prosecuting individuals.

But maybe, as I have suggested before, they also ought to look at the sort of society that their policies create.

Except that as all these old Etonians and old Harrovians say, “there is no such things as society.”

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31 comments to Tottenham’s own anti-Semitic chants. Illegal, or just a defence against something far worse?

  • avatar Shinhead

    A good article Tony (from a Spurs fan)I can only agree re Sol and I am glad it finished.I was talking to three jewish Spurs lads last night and one sent me the following quote today.By the way they all support the Yid Army chant.
    YID :An Eastern European Jew. The term is often interpreted as offensive, which is a major misconception. The word Yiddish is not offensive, so neither is Yid. The word Yid is used to differentiate between an Eastern European, Yiddish-speaking Jew and an Israeli, Hebrew-speaking Jew.

  • avatar RBS

    What a factually incorrect blog this is. At the infamous Portsmouth v Spurs match. 11 Spurs fans were arrested. 9 accepted their unfair punishment and were sentenced accordingly, bans from football, fines that sort of thing. 2 refused to accept this chant was either homophophic or racist. They appealed went back to court and won, the chant was deemed offensive only. They were therefore not guilty. As for further chanting about Sol Campbell after this match, Tottenham did not turn a blind eye as you suggest. Spurs fans were thrown out, messages were published in the programme and online and a zero tolerance was in place. So the anti-Campbell chants changed form and became fairly tame.

  • avatar D King

    You need to understand that the word “Yid” to someone Jewish would be the equivelent of using the word “Paki” to an Asian. They are both abreviations and equally insulting. So for you to say it “is not an awful word” shows why it needs to eradicated and people better educated. In the same way that the word “Paki” is now a derogatory term, (you could argue that its just a shortened word for Pakistani, which would be like calling a German a Germ, or an Italian an Ital)the word Yid when used as a slur is totally racist and should not be tolerated.

  • avatar TJGooner

    One man went to bed, went to bed with Ashley. C**t!

    Yes I agree, Arsenal fans are innocent in terms of homophobic chanting…

    Sigh, it’s not funny, big or clever and shouldn’t be accepted BUT offensive and inappropriate chanting are a part of live football, until someone comes down hard on a team/set of supporters it won’t stop. Go ask Rangers and Celtic fans.

  • avatar marek

    You write :
    “I have no idea of the answer – only that there are some extreme positions which should be prosecuted.”

    I agree with 50% and disagree with the other 50%. There are chants and behaviors that are extreme (some would say that’s the point) but I absolutely disagree that they should be prosecuted. Perhaps it’s my background (Eastern-European-born American) that makes me distinctly distrustful of any sort of governmental authority, but I would never want the government to prosecute anyone for speech. Government policing speech gives too much power to the government, and it turns the speakers into martyrs.

    I think a better solution here is the one you hint at at the end – social ostracism of those who behave in unacceptable ways. It may be very difficult to do because, as you write, many football fans enjoy exactly the sort of extreme behavior that you do not like, but it is still preferable to prosecuting speech. In my Polish birth-place there is a prominent soccer team with a significant proportion of unabashedly racist fans. You can imagine what sort of a bind they find themselves in when the team’s leading scorer, actually, the team’s only reliable scorer (their very own RvP, as it were), is black, as is the case now. Something like that, plus simple rejection of racism by a majority of fans, is enough. In this scenario, the racist chanters, if they keep it up, appear not as martyrs, but as fools.

  • avatar Bazmundo

    Sol Campbell received abuse simply because he was the Tottenham captain who run his contract down and then run off with tottenham’s biggest rivals. The name calling was pretty sterotypical in terms of human behaviour. It’s the same behaviour traits that’s seen when extra marital affairs take place. We can’t control nature and we have to be sure we are not contradicting “normal” behaviour patterns. If you said sol Campbell was a big girls blouse are you being homophobic and sexist? Where will lines be drawn? Will we draw up a legal dictionary? Or will implication be enough to draw complaints and prosecutions? With regards to the Yid word… If people want to call themselves a name irrelevant of what it is that is their right? It is not just non Jewish people that call themselves Yid army at spurs so in no way is being used to discriminate. Also I would expect a number of rap artists to be prosecuted under the same pretence for using the “n” word which in my opinion is much more offensive in terms of historical context.

  • avatar grat

    As to the chanting of the “Y-word”, there are many message borads full of spurs fans constructively discussing it so thanks for your input.
    I myself take that view of most people regardless of situation in that if something defines you is threatened – you defend it to the hilt, therefore keeping you as the arbiters of what can and can’t be used. Why should something that defines us as a fan of a club, is used only in a positive manner by it’s fans be taken away because of someone feeling offended for someone else.

    Anyway – I would never let someone stop myself calling myself and fellow fans whatever the hell I/we want where we are effectively being accused of insulting ourselves.
    However – I have seen comments whereby the use of the word in the positive way we use is, maintains the use of it in a derogatory way towards us – even though the Y word is now more synonimous with “spurs fans” than “jewish person”.

    In order to stop the use in a negative manner it seems we will have to give up the use of it in a positive manner, although I can’t help feeling that if we chose to give up the use of a word in a positive light due to the fact that it brings negative conertations over, then it is not the PC anti racist brigade that have won, but the negative inclined abusive people that have won.

    If we can no longer call ourselves YIDS, What will we end up calling ourselves, and what happens if this cycle returns? will we have to sanitise another word for the sake of a few people who have a personal crusade?

    I had a choice when it came to chose a football team – I was 8 in the playground and all I remember before saying spurs was thinking “not manchester united”
    I made my choice, in a way it has shaped my life, but this is football – I’m a Yid and proud that we as a club took a negative and turned it into a positive, by banning us from using it I can’t help thinking that the positive would be turned back into a negative.

    an incidental rant..
    It is far to easy to jump in with everyone else and label things homophobic without fully understanding the basis behind the comment. In particular – as you quote the Portsmouth occasion, the
    “Sol,Sol wherever you may be” song – which incidentally, when one of the fans accused of racist and homophobic chanting, got the case thrown out of court, recieved a fraction of the media attention as the few who for whatever reason chose not do defend themselves in a court and made guilty by media witch hunt.
    the fact that HIV is mentioned does NOT make it a homophobic song, (Unless you take the decision that the only people with the disease are in fact homosexual – which make you the person assuming something about sexuality – no??) neither does “hanging from a tree” make it a racist one in the context of the wording. – see Judas etc in the bible and thereby 50 Pieces of Silver as I’m sure most non – hysterical people would have figured out.
    I’m not saying their aren’t chants that comment on the sexuality of players, but I have a particular issue with the use of the word “homo-PHOBIA” where I understand the word Phobia as an aversion to things, where I’m sure most people that use a sexually oriented slur use it more in a playground insulting manner than a feeling of hatred to anyone who is inclined that way. I may be wrong – but If I’m joking with my mates and call one of them “gay” it certainly isn’t coz I can’t be around people of a different sexuality without breaking out into a sweat or running screaming down the road before collapsing, gibbering in a corner- but I can’t really provide an alternative though – Homophobia always seems too strong a word for comments that are often born in the playground. Still that’s PC madness these days making a gender based insult a hysterical label that marginalises you up there with those slightly to the right of Hitler guys who really DO have an issue with non-WASP individuals. I am not Homophobic, But I do seriously hate Sol Campbell

  • avatar Cheshuntboy

    There IS an answer – it’s what your dad, my dad and millions of others fought the second world war for, namely free speech, and it includes the right to be nasty to Sol Campbell, AVB, John Terry, Jesus or Mohammed. The alternative is the outlawing of free thought as well as free speech, and we’re well on the way to it, thanks to ‘nice’ people like you and cynical chancers like Mr Herbert.

  • avatar Hairyroadmap

    So what is your thoughts on the “We got got Cesc Fabregas, you Yids are afraid of gas” chanted by your lot, is that not just as bad or worse than the Judas chant?

  • Hairy… and others who have raised similar points. I don’t know how I could have made it any clearer. I find the whole situation awful, and am critical of Arsenal and Arsenal stewards for not taking action. What more could I have said?

    Did you not read the blog?

  • avatar Ben

    So how is it acceptable to sing about RVP being a rapist?

    Arsenal fans can be hypocritical sometimes

  • avatar TommyHarmer

    Spurs supporter here …….. thought you had a good try at this – the real issue however is that the use of the term Yid developed out of it’s use AGAINST us largely by SOME Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham fans – each of these groups also vigorously hissed in imitation of gas, and chanted about Auschwitz. I don’t say that aggressively – I feel as unhappy about the Sol Campbell abuse and about the Adeboyar camel songs (I note that latter is NOW used by some of yours). I disapprove of these as strongly as you do, and would point out that the club DID cooperate with the police in identifying those who sung at Portsmouth, many of whom were found guilty, some of whom weren’t.

    There really is a strange discrepancy here – Niggers can be used as a ‘praise term’ by black people, but not by white. A Black lawyer can call himself black, but a Uraguayan cannot call him black in Spanish ….. it is all ridiculous. It is also evident that Mr Herbert doesn’t actually represent a large number of black lawyers rather in the way that the English Defence League doesn’t defend a lot of English people (many of whom are, of course, black). I go with my football club here (who are called BTW Tottenham Hotspur and not Tottenham FC as Mr Herbert seems to think). They take the view that INTENT is the important issue and that Spurs use the term Yid in an entirely positive way, and I can confirm that wholeheartedly. And just to muddy the water a bit more, gooner is a term appropriated by Arsenal supporters from Spurs fans – we used it as a joke; you took ownership of it to turn its meaning just as we did with the term Yids.

    Moral of this, as always – keep the lawyers as far away from you as you can!! In the end it’s better to solve disputes with a little game of football ……… COYS!!

  • avatar Yid at Work

    This whole issue is being blown out of proportion by a man with aclear agenda of raising the profile of his company. IF he succeeds with this the god help us all. Racism is a nasty thing. It isn’t, as many would have you believe white on black or white on brown or white on any colour for that matter… it’s an issue that effects us all regardless of colour.

    However, we have to get some sense of proportion.Has anyone from the Jewish community complained that Spurs fans call themselves Yids ? To my knowledge. NO ! Like many instances of racism it’s somebody who has no connection with the alleged racist nature of something. This lawyer I believe is black.. who is speaking on behalf of ? Has he infact been asked to speak on behalf of anyone from the Jewish community ? I’d say probably not !

    Arsenal fans… Glass houses ! Just the other night a young fan about the age of 5 was pictured hurling abuse at RVP who only a few months ago was your the saviour of your club ! Short memories you have !

  • avatar nicky

    As someone who played and watched football up to and including WW2, I cannot understand the upsurge of obscene and racial chanting since (say) 1945.
    I sometimes feel that in the absense of our enemies, some folk simply have to find another source on which to attach hatred.
    This ignorant behaviour appears to have no relationship with our wartime enemies of Germany and Japan.Instead it involves colour, faith and the type of old Anglo Saxon language these morons would never use in front of their own parents and families.
    Almost certainly the inevitable legacy of a lowering of morals during a world conflict has played a part by loosening the spoken and written word used by all of us.
    The relative prim and proper days of pre-war Britain will never return, I’m afraid, and the old saying of “Sticks and stones…” is something to bear in mind by those in receipt of abuse.
    The answer, as in many of our faults, lies in our upbringing.
    Parents have the heavy responsibility of bringing up their children in the proper way, respecting all life by word and deed. If they don’t, they cannot be surprised if the poor example they set is followed by their children.

  • avatar cyril

    the portsmouth stuff was horrible from a homphobic point of view. but there are distinctions to be made. the fans cut a deal; ie pleaded guilty and were not found guilty
    the only court that heard evidence and had to reach a verdict was re a father and son who fought it and did so in the crown court
    i have not seen a transcript but it was reported as taking only five minutes for the judge to throw it out as not amounting to anything< in criminal terms, other than a waste of his time. meaning the rest of the bunch who accepted a conviction against their name probably felt pretty sick about it. anyway the homphobic aspect was clear and unacceptable. the rest was just appallingly unpleasant language but not racist.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    As usual very wise words Nicky!

    My mother once said to me very wise words when I was a young boy when I was saying things that young boys say like: “I hat this, I hate that, I hate him, I hate her…. “. She said: “if everyone tries to be good for another person there would be no need for hatred in the world and all people would be happy. It is bad to hate someone”.

    At first it just seemed a lot of old peoples rubbish (me still being a kid) but when she passed away a few years later and myself just being a young adult I saw the real meaning of those words and understood them.

    I confess I couldn’t live up to these words entirely (oh that bloody weak human nature) but I did used it as my own personal guidance: “I will not hate anyone”. No need to declare me as a Saint because I failed a lot but did tried to do it.

    I must say that I don’t really “hate” spurs or their fans. Of course I find it very very very funny when they fail as they did last year, but that is not down to hating them. That is just because I like laughing and certainly when we can laugh with them in particular.

    But in general I think hating someone is not a good feeling. I don’t like Robin any more but don’t hate him. I just feel he is a sad person who will later realise what he doesn’t understand right now.
    He will come back to the Emirates later one, wander outside the ground with his sun who will ask him about the statues. And then realise: I could have been here. Now he will just be a name on a list. Statues stand for ever (in a way of speaking) lists are written on paper and paper is for the waste bin. So I don’t sing hate songs.

    Okay, I do sing and stand up for the “stand up if you hate Tottenham”… ah human nature…not yet a Saint, mother…sorry.
    ;-)

  • avatar colario

    Like others I noticed there weren’t any articles from you for awhile. I was glad to learn it was due to techie problems and not health problems. So thanks for this article, (I have not read it yet) just thought I’d let you know I appreciate your blogs. Now I will read this one.

  • avatar Adam

    The Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish (a high German language) and we all know the history surrounding the Jewish population of Europe and the Slavic regions (Ashkenazi should give it away). The effects are still clearly visible today if you travel the regions as frequently as I do. Anyway the Ashkenazi Jews settled around the Rhine area of Germany where the Yiddish language evolved and spread often changing slightly to form a regional dialect. Ashkenazi Jews settled northern France, Spain, Germany and the Slavic regions from as early as 10th century. The term Yiddish came into being around the 18th century.
    A famous Ashkenazi Jew called Theodor Herzl wrote in 1896
    “The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America”.
    Herzl died in 1904 His remains were removed from Vienna to mount Herzl Jerusalem in 1949 his dying wish. He was instrumental in the founding’s of a free Israeli state but never lived to see it. I think such people of the standing of Mr Herzl and Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Anne Franks deserve better than a bunch of football fans using their heritage as banter. Maybe it is time for change.

  • avatar nicky

    Adam,
    This “Jewish problem” puzzles me. The Jews congregate where they are not persecuted. Then they begin to be persecuted so they move on and the whole sorry business starts again. My question is what exactly is the Jewish problem in your opinion and what sort of political solution is likely to solve it.
    Is it their business acumen, their religious dedication or their somewhat private community that is the problem?
    I once spent a holiday in Israel and couldn’t fail to be impressed with the pride and allegiance with which all Jews had in their homeland.

  • avatar rupert cook

    Anti-Semitism in England was around long before Herzl predicted its spread. Jews were massacred in York in the 12th century.

    Get rid of religion, get rid of nations, confront the tribal nature of humanity. Even if you do all this humans will conjure up some excuse to despise one another.

  • avatar jaroda

    Discrimination in all it’s forms should be eradicated.
    I think it’s a truly inspirational reflection on Arsenal football club that they are at the forefront of this movement. After all, how many clubs can boast that their team selection does not discriminate on the grounds of footballing ability?
    No football elitism at Arsenal.. got a shirt? Put it on. Are you any good? Doesn’t matter. We are Arsenal and we don’t discriminate on that basis. Want to score a goal? Smash it in at either end. We don’t discriminate on the direction we’re shooting either.

  • avatar Andy

    I think your continued singling out of that one game against Portsmouth is unfair on tottenham. As previously mentioned, the culprits were punished accordingly for what was truly horrible chanting. But what about last years north London derby at whl, when arsenal fans were heard to be chanting ‘it should have been you, it should have been you, shot in Angola, it should have been you’ to Adebayor. They were wishing death on a player who went through a horrible experience were his friends and colleagues were injured and even killed. Did arsenal take action against these fans? I genuinely don’t know but if anyone can provide me with evidence they did then perhaps you have some high ground to stand on. But right now, the words pot and kettle come to mind

  • avatar Adam

    @Nicky, The above is a quote translated from “Der Judenstaat” written by Theodor Herzl and first published around 1895. He wanted to find a solution to the increasing discrimination aimed at the Jews of Europe who at the time were being systematically ostracised from society, a theme that has played out a few times in Europe. Something tells me you already know this though? From extra taxes to bans on religion to also being forced to wear identifying clothes, bans on being in certain parts of town and restrictions on what trades a Jewish person could enter and exclusion from public life. Altogether an unwanted people who had as much right to be here as anyone else, but it took the atrocities of the Holocaust and the forming of modern Israel decades later to put a stop to the persecution of Jews in Europe. Or has it?

  • avatar rupert cook

    If it isn’t the Jews, it’ll be someone else. Anti-Wengerites maybe?

  • avatar Mike T

    What is of a concern is that many will condem one individual for saying something that is deemed to be a racist insult yet these same individulas defend their comments as being ok when others say they are not.

    This whole area is a mess and it seems to me the FA in particular, but also the FA have albeit by wanting to deal with matters,

    Once the FA said that it word that had racist overtones, irrespective of the context,was deemed to be an offensive then that was always going to be a slippery slope.I wonder what the FA position will be if Clattenburg did as is being suggested ay ” I dont give a monkees” After all he I suggest he wouldnt have said these words meaning anyone was a monkey but the FA have said context is irrelvent.

    Whilst the Police say that they wont arrest Spurs supporters who use the word in question I do wonder what the FAs approach will be if they receive a complaint.

  • avatar Mike T

    Forget the second paragraph in my previous posting

  • avatar bjtgooner

    @rupert

    Your comment at 9.13am shows just what a shallow creep you are.

  • avatar bob

    Where should a line be drawn, and what to do once it is crossed?
    Imo, and without the big brother state, the exclusion of offenders from a football pitch does/would have real consequences in peoples lives – taking away offenders right to oxygen (so to speak), denying them a public platform, and making them social pariahs, all to discourage others. As for the specific type of offense, I think the line should be drawn where death or bodily injury, or the threat of either one, both currently and historically, are projected. As examples, I’d argue that these two cross the line for exclusion from further games for 5 years. And repeat offenders garner a lifetime ban. Thus:

    (1) “The club believes that real anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers is the real evil and the real offence.” Have to agree with Tottenham’s view on this. Turning genocide into a joke is beyond tolerance.

    (2)”But what about last years north London derby at whl, when arsenal fans were heard to be chanting ‘it should have been you, it should have been you, shot in Angola, it should have been you’ to Adebayor. They were wishing death on a player who went through a horrible experience were his friends and colleagues were injured and even killed. Did arsenal take action against these fans?” Have to agree with this writer’s view that this too is beyond tolerance.

    We must recognize that genocidal policies often first feed off public and media expressions of terms that turn opponents into sub-human savages. This type of speech cannot be allowed to be normalized because it has been shown to stoke genocidal urges down the road. Threats to physical harm, direct or indirect, ought to result in physical bans from the premises by the participating clubs. So it should be enforced through the FA and all clubs should have to sign on to that and be seen as enforcing said rules. Surely there will be gray areas; but the overall line against references to murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing should be drawn. We need a minimum enforceable standard as part of an overall public education campaign that would try to instill and reinforce a visceral horror of being subjected to pogroms, witch hunts, murder campaigns, ethnic cleansings, and genocide. It cannot finally be resolved on the football ground alone; but the public example must be set there and maintained there, and hopefully (probably) it would be done in sync with discussions in public school classrooms from the earliest grades on, so that the next generations will not be (as) infected by the inherited legacies of the current and its previous generations. A demonstrable commitment to breaking the cycle would be the starting place; and, given its influence over young hearts and minds, organized football should be seen to be part of that societal commitment.

  • avatar Ben L

    I did do a quick check and Metro does report that Spurs arrested a few fans about the chanting but i could not find a date anywhere on the page as to when it was reported.

    Personally I think the fans using the Y word and making it cool amongst themselves is like the black people using the n word especially in music.

  • avatar Grumpy man

    Britain didn’t go to war against the Nazi’s because of their
    fascism and anti-Semitic policies. It’s a nice thought though. My dad fought against the Germans and the Japanese because he was conscripted and they made him.

  • This is a most interesting comment Grumpy Man because it contains within it a type of argument that we are seeing more and more on this and other sites.

    In para one you speak of Britain not going to war. In para two your dad was conscripted. Both are true but one argument does not undermine the other.

    Your father may well have fought and served his country with dignity and honour, although forced so to do – but nevertheless the policy of appeasement was overthrown because Germany had a policy of expansion across the whole of Europe, and where it did expand it dep0loyed nazi and anti-Semitic policies. The concentration camp on Alderney – British territory – is testimony enough, and I can speak with a little authority on it since part of my family comes from the Channel Isles.