Spurs finally launches consultation with fans on use of ‘Y-word’

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Spurs finally launches consultation with fans on use of ‘Y-word’

With just days before the start of the Premier League season, the north London club emails its supporters to ask their views on the controversial chant

A Yid flag at the Champions League final.
A Yid flag at the Champions League final.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club finally launched its fans’ consultation on the use of the Y-word this week – just days after Jewish News publicised supporters’ “disappointment” at the lack of action.

It follows a summer in which fans keen for the term to be banned were told they would have a say on the matter, only for them to hear nothing from the club.

With the season starting this weekend, Spurs at last sent out an emailed survey, asking supporters for their thoughts on a range of quotes, including one from a Jewish News editorial.

In May, the club promised to consult on the term this summer after a Holocaust educator appeared on Sky TV discussing it. The survey was sent just days after a Jewish News article highlighted the absence of any promised consultation.

Jewish News’ editorial quoted in the survey

Spurs fans have traditionally self-identified using the Y-word in stadium chants sung as a badge of pride referencing the club’s Jewish heritage. However, Jewish groups have in recent years urged a ban on the word, which many find offensive.

Jewish groups this week said they were “encouraged” by the move. A spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST) said: “We certainly hope something constructive comes out of this process.”

Board of Deputies’ vice-president Amanda Bowman said: “We welcome this consultation and look forward to seeing the results. The continued use of the Y-word by fans, whatever their intentions, works against efforts to eradicate anti-Jewish racism from football.”

But not everyone in the Jewish community agrees that Spurs fans’ usage is offensive, which the club recognised in its preface to the survey, saying there was “a broad spectrum of debate across both Jewish and non-Jewish communities”.

Mike Leigh, a Jewish supporter who produces the Spurs Show Podcast, felt that the vast majority of fans would want to continue using the phrase.

The survey sent out by Spurs

“The issue has always been about context,” he said. “Spurs fans chant it in a celebratory way while rival fans have always used it in a derogatory way… British Jewry has far bigger things to worry about at the moment.”

Registered Tottenham Fans are now being asked whether they find the term offensive or inappropriate, whether they know that others consider it racist, and to what extent they agree with commentators’ views on the subject.

Among the excerpts shared in the survey are those by columnists Daniel Finkelstein, David Aaronovitch and Martin Samuel, as well as CST deputy communications director Dave Rich, plus comments from Spurs fans on Twitter.

Jewish News has argued that wearing the Y-word as a badge of honour is “perverse,” adding: “Jewish Tottenham fans are broadly to blame for its continued use…When Jews hear the word ‘Yid’ they are unequivocally responsible for standing proudly against it, not proudly for it.”

In a statement, Action Against Discrimination chair Jonathan Metliss said: “We are encouraged by Spurs raising the issue, but believe the Club is obviating its responsibility by not banning the use of the ‘Y-word’, ‘Yiddo’, ‘Yid army’ and ‘Being a Yid.’ All are chanted by Spurs fans.”

Rich said Spurs fans’ use of the Y-word did not excuse the antisemitic abuse levelled at them by rivals, but that “ultimately ridding football of antisemitism has to involve Spurs fans finding another way to express their identity”.

Fans have until 18 August to complete the online survey, the first consultation on the use of the Y-word having taken place in 2013.

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