Spurs 'yid' row: Club backs fans after police threat over chants
Society of Black Lawyers threatens to report songs to police as fans split over issue
FOOTBALL is in danger of tying itself in knots over racism once again after Premier League club Spurs came out in defence of its fans following a complaint from the Society of Black Lawyers about songs containing the word 'yid'.
Tottenham fans have long described themselves as 'yids' thanks to their long association with north London's Jewish community, even though it is a derogatory term for Jews. Now Peter Herbert, chair of the SBL, has threatened to report the club to the police if the chants containing the offending word continued.
It is not the first time the word has caused controversy. Last year Jewish comedian David Baddiel launched a campaign to try and discourage fans from using it. Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was forced to apologise earlier this year for branding Spurs fans 'yids' on Twitter.
However, Spurs have defended the right of supporters' to use the word and during last night's Europa League game against Slovenian side Maribor chants of 'yid army' echoed around White Hart Lane. Fans also chanted: "We'll sing what we want".
But after race rows involving John Terry, Luis Suarez, the Serbian Under-21 team and most recently referee Mark Clattenburg, another controversy appears to be on the cards.
Defending its fans, Spurs insisted the club did not "tolerate any form of racist or abusive chanting" but insisted that the "Y-word" was not being used to cause offence.
"Our fans adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect antisemitic abuse," said the club. "They do not use the term to others to cause any offence, they use it as a chant amongst themselves."
However, Baddiel has rejected that argument, arguing that no more than one in 20 Spurs fans are Jewish. "The idea that Spurs fans are reclaiming the Y-word and are entitled to because so many of them are Jewish is simply not true," he told the Daily Mail.
"The thing to remember about yid is: it's a race-hate word. It was daubed across the East End by Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts." He said its acceptance suggested that anti-Semitism was "somehow less offensive, somehow less significant, than other racisms".
It is time to give it up, says Jewish Spurs fan Matthew Norman in The Daily Telegraph, even though it is used without malice. "Civilised people who visit the Lane, Jews and goyim, do not like hearing the Y-word, though they know it is fondly meant, or having to explain it to their children," he argues.
"The Yiddo question is more complicated than it sometimes seems," said Guardian blogger John Crace. "Yid is not a word for a largely non-Jewish crowd to reclaim and anything – even if it is not intended as such – that gives opposing fans a licence to use it as an insult should be outlawed."
But he also admitted: "It's impossible not to be carried away by the sheer power of approval that comes with the chant... I may no longer sing Yiddo; but I certainly think it."
Writing for Here Is The City, Spurs fan Connor Jipps accused the SBL of trying to gain publicity. "It's time for the Society of Black Lawyers to back down and realise they are fighting a losing battle and move on," he said.
He also dismissed claims that hissing sounds sometimes made by rival fans, a reference to gas chambers, were in some way connected to the use of 'yid'.
"I'm sure I speak for everyone with a shred of decency when I say that the two are completely incomparable and such vitriol is in no way equal to the positivity around the word used by Spurs fans," he argued.