Frank Lampard, Ledley King and Kieran Gibbs are among the stars lending their support to rid football of anti-Semitic chants and insults.The Kick It Out Campaign, created to stamp out anti-Semitism in football, has made a film called ‘The Y-word’ spearheading a push to change attitudes among supporters.
The film also reminds supporters they can be prosecuted for using words such as ‘yid’ or ‘yiddo’, which have their origins in the High German language Yiddish.
Fans of English Premier League club Tottenham are among the film’s chief targets. Spurs fans have adopted the term ‘Yid Army’ to describe themselves after years of opposition supporters directing the slur at them.
Comedian David Baddiel and brother Ivor produced the film for the Kick It Out Campaign, and the latter concedes it is a monumental task convincing some fans that the use of the words is, in fact, racist.
“It’s not easy to change people’s opinions and stop them doing these things but you’ve got to start somewhere,” Ivor told Reuters.
“People, Spurs fans or other fans are not going to see the film and think, ‘Oh sorry, we didn’t realise we were doing something offensive and we’re going to stop’. It doesn’t work like that.”
“But I hope, over time, possibly with the next generation of Spurs fans, it will be eradicated.”
No-one is exactly sure why Tottenham have become identified as a ‘Jewish club’, as their fan-base demographic is virtually identical to London neighbours Arsenal.
But Baddiel is determined to eradicate the nastier aspects arising from the stereotype, including the ‘hissing’ sounds often directed at Spurs supporters – as if they were being gassed – by rival fans.
Baddiel drew parallels between the use of the reclaiming of the N-word in black hip-hop culture and the Y-word being used by Spurs fans, but said there is a crucial difference that separates the two.
“They are not saying the Y-word because they are proud to be Jewish, they are using the Y-word because they are proud to be Spurs fans,” he said.
“The vast majority of Tottenham fans are not actually Jewish, so a large number of non-Jewish people are using a racist word for Jews to say that they’re proud to be Tottenham fans.”
“Spurs fans supposedly reclaiming the Y-word, it doesn’t diminish it at all. Other clubs fans chant it back at them, often in greater numbers.”
England international and Chelsea great Lampard warns in the film: “Some might think it is just a bit of a laugh but racist chanting is against the law.”
“It’s against the law to call someone the Y-word in the street. So if you fancy joining in what you think is a bit of harmless chanting, think again.”