Chelsea boss urges fans not to sing antisemitic songs during Spurs clash

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Chelsea boss urges fans not to sing antisemitic songs during Spurs clash

Maurizio Sarri and opposition manager Mauricio Pochettino call on supporters not to be abusive, days after Jewish leaders said the clubs must clamp down on hateful chanting

Tottenham Hotspur hosting Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in the Premier League in August 2017
Tottenham Hotspur hosting Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in the Premier League in August 2017

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has called for the club’s fans to support their team and not sing offensive songs about opponents Tottenham on Tuesday night.

Blues fans have been under the spotlight in recent weeks after a number of high-profile incidents including a derogatory chant about Spurs supporters, featuring alleged antisemitic language, at a Europa League match in Hungary last month.

Chelsea have adopted a zero tolerance policy and officials and supporters from both clubs met last week to discuss stewarding and policing at Wembley.

Those present were told discriminatory chanting would not be tolerated, whether by an individual or groups of people.

Sarri said: “I think we need the support of our fans of course. But we would like to have their support for us, not against the opponents.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has called on fans to support their team and not produce an unwanted atmosphere at the game.

Pochettino said: “I think the fans need to support their teams and to try to help them to win. They need to support the players, nothing else.

“That is the most important thing for me. They need to create a good atmosphere and not to think about the emotion of hating each other.”

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust on Sunday posted an article on the group’s website reporting the experiences of two Jewish supporters, a mother and son, who discussed hearing antisemitic abuse at Stamford Bridge.

The son, known as Jack, said: “It has definitely got worse in recent seasons. It is a bit stupid and short-sighted though, especially as our owner, Roman Abramovich, is Jewish.

“It is ridiculous that it is that aspect, with Tottenham or whoever, that someone would pick on.”

Last January Chelsea launched the ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ campaign and in 2010 joined with anti-discrimination group Kick It Out to “try and rid the game of the Y-word”.

However, the waters are muddied by the fact Tottenham supporters use the Y-word in large numbers at matches.

Last week the World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews urged Spurs to take a stand against its use.

Yet the club maintain the term is not meant to cause offence, with a spokesman saying: “We remain wholly committed to ensuring that a zero tolerance position is adopted in respect of antisemitic behaviour.

“The Y-word was originally adopted in order to deflect such abuse. We have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any deliberate intent to cause offence.

“A re-assessment of its use can only occur effectively within the context of a total clampdown on unacceptable antisemitism.”.

Nevertheless, the mother in the CST article, known as Karen, said: “I don’t like what Tottenham call themselves. I find it uncomfortable, and it certainly isn’t helpful.

“It is meant to be an offensive term. But whatever Tottenham call themselves, it doesn’t ever excuse people shouting about hatred for Jews.

“Should anyone not understand: the word is a derogatory word about Jewish people. Whoever you might be directing it at: if Jewish people are present, then it is us who are hurt by it.”

The CST has backed Chelsea’s zero tolerance policy on discriminatory chanting by the club’s supporters.

CST chair David Chidgey told Press Association Sport: “We reiterate that we are wholeheartedly supportive of the club and what they are doing to prevent it.

“There’s a strong feeling that we need to get our own house in order. Our goal is not to tell people how to behave. But we go to support the team; that’s why we all go.”

Tuesday night’s match is sold out with the capacity at Wembley capped at 51,000.

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