Chelsea fans will travel to Tottenham with their own club stewards in-tow next week in an unusual move aimed at curbing supporters’ continued antisemitic chanting.
Matches between the two clubs have a history of racist chanting, with Tottenham fans having long called themselves the ‘Yid Army’ in reference to their Jewish roots, but Chelsea fans have repeatedly used the word to cause offence.
While Tottenham fans often travel to away matches with their own stewards, the Stamford Bridge club – which is owned by Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich – has seldom done likewise, meaning Chelsea’s decision marks a change in tactics.
The issue of Chelsea fans’ antisemitic chanting was repeatedly raised last year, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn even wading in to warn travelling supporters against singing offensive songs. But the matter remains problematic, with chants about “Yids” heard during Chelsea’s last two games, against Watford and Crystal Palace.
Chelsea supporters are believed to be aggrieved that Tottenham fans are legally able to use the word ‘Yid’ in reference to themselves, since they see it as “reclaiming” the terms, whereas Chelsea fans using the same word will be ejected.
Representatives of both sets of fans are due to meet police officers ahead of the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Wembley stadium on Tuesday, which is Spurs’ temporary home until their revamped stadium is completed.
But Abramovich is concerned that the club’s recent efforts to warn fans against antisemitic chanting have not worked, after offensive songs were heard during Chelsea’s most recent European match in Budapest last month. An ongoing UEFA investigation into Chelsea supporters’ actions could lead to severe penalties.