The ‘Y’ word debate appears to have dominated both sporting and political circles in recent days. In reality it is more than a yes or no question, it is an incredibly complex issue that the FA and Baddiel and co have dredged up again and I cannot see a simple or immediate solution.
We have been here before. Last season Peter Herbert and his Society of Black Lawyers launched an attack on Tottenham fans following his perception of anti-Semitism. This season it is the FA who have taken their turn to voice their concerns on the matter:
“Use of the term ‘Yid’ is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer.”
“Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence and leave fans liable to prosecution.”
It added: “The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation.”
This isn’t a new phenomenon and neither is the plainly racist retaliation from opposition fans, you can find the history of the issue covered in detail elsewhere.
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The FA’s sudden move into the centre of the issue is an uneasy one for me. Fans of Spurs were subjected to disgusting abuses during their 3-1 victory over West Ham last season, with chants of “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz” along with crass Hitler salutes and gas-chamber whistles. What I find astonishing is that the FA cited West Ham for the plainly racist behaviour, but ended up taking no action. Their reasoning was that West Ham’s reaction in removing season tickets and the sole arrest was suitable enough to deal with the situation. I am not convinced.
So the FA really don’t have a leg to stand on if they want to punish fans of Spurs. Quick to overlook what I would perceive as genuine racism but fast to act on those who don’t seek to engender hate, wrong if you ask me.
The FA, Baddiel and Herbert would all argue that the root issue is that Spurs fans use of the word ‘Yid’ provokes the hateful responses from other fans. Without the use of the term, there would be no retaliation.
I have been to a number of Spurs/ Chelsea/ West Ham/ Arsenal games and the reality is opposition fans rarely used the term ‘Yid’. Racist jibes stem from Spurs’ association with the Jewish community rather than anything particular. So if the FA really want to rid the game of anti-Semitism they need to sever Spurs’ ties with the Jewish community as whole.
Spurs’ association with a historically marginalised race is a cause for positivity in my book and not condemnation. If the FA genuinely want to end the racial jibes, it means not only an end to the ‘y’ word but the Bagel stands and Stars of David that so proudly hang around White Hart Lane.
A sad occurrence if you ask me.
Considering how long this issue has been evident for, I am surprised by the clueless knee-jerkism from the FA. On the eve of England fans being attacked in the Ukraine, the FA are more interested in fighting a battle with a club that has anything but a hateful relationship with the Jewish community.
The FA have placed themselves in an incredibly difficult situation. The failure to punish West Ham has really weakened their legitimacy on the issue and in reality there is little they can do bar a fine and an unlikely points deduction to punish Spurs. The Metropolitan Police have already refused to arrest fans for using the term, and as it stand the hierarchy at Spurs seem keen to back their fans as well.
David Cameron may know little about football and his statement may have been politically motivated, but I thought he spoke remarkably sensibly to the Jewish Chronicle:
“You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted – but only when it’s motivated by hate.”
Spurs fans are not motivated by hate, if you ever went to a game you would realise that. Chants of ‘Jermaine Defoe he’s a Yido’ are not a criticism of the forward but a term of endearment.
The real racists are those that set out to incite ant-Semitic hatred, if the FA don’t see it fit to punish them in the slightest then for you cannot justify punishing Spurs.
Racists will attack Spurs for being a Jewish club regardless and I don’t see how what fans chant at White Hart Lane affects this.
Do the FA have a leg to stand on here?
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