‘Take a stand against use of Y-word’, UK and international Jewish leaders urge

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‘Take a stand against use of Y-word’, UK and international Jewish leaders urge

World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies call on fans of Spurs and other London clubs to stop using the term

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

The World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews have condemned the use of the Y-word to describe Tottenham supporters.

Spurs fans use the Y-word in large numbers, often about themselves, and there have been alleged uses of the word by fans from rival clubs, including Chelsea and Arsenal, in the last month.

The warning from the World Jewish Congress in New York comes just four days before Tottenham play Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

“Contrary to the protests of many fans, there is no grey area when it comes to slurs that target a particular religious, racial, or ethnic group,” said WJC chief executive Robert Singer.

“The word yid has for years been re-appropriated from its original Yiddish to carry a distinctly pejorative and antisemitic message and its use by fans in the stands, either as a self-designated nickname or as a slogan against rivals must not be tolerated in any way.

“The innocence this word once carried, as a simple translation for Jew, has long disappeared, and we must be extremely conscious of the antisemitic connotation it now bears.”

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said in December that the club, including owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, would “not rest until we have eliminated all forms of discrimination from our club”, and insisted the use of the Y-word by Spurs fans was not a defence.

Singer added: “There has sadly been a long history of hooliganism and extremist behaviour within football, particularly in England, and we hope that the actions being taken in good faith by Chelsea’s leadership to take punitive measures against any supporters that violate this code of conduct will help establish the groundwork for more tolerance among fans of all teams.

“We would also ask Tottenham Hotspur FC to take a stand against the use of ‘Yid Army’, ‘Yid’ and ‘Yiddos’ by their fans.”

This comes after it was announced earlier this week, that 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.

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.

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