Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has revealed that its summer survey into fans’ use of the Y-word in stadium songs showed large numbers of Jewish fans don’t like hearing it.
Findings from the consultation were revealed this week, showing up to half of Jewish Spurs fans would like to see a change, preferring that other fans stop using or chant it less.
However, it also showed that among Jewish respondents, 36 percent “regularly” used the Y-word in stadium chants and 30 percent “occasionally” did so, while 34 percent never used it. Among Jewish respondents, 42% answered that they would like to see a change, with 26% favouring that fans stop using it and 16% preferring fans to chant it less.
The club, which is chaired by Jewish businessman Daniel Levy and co-owned by Levy and Jewish billionaire Joe Lewis, commenced its consultation in August and said this week that it had received 23,000 responses.
A third of all respondents said they “regularly” used the Y-word, which derives from the north London club’s Jewish heritage dating back almost a century, to a time when many of the city’s Jews had recently arrived from Central and Eastern Europe.
Fans, including Jewish supporters, say they identify as the “Yid Army” as a term of affection, but other British Jews have said the term is offensive and racist. This year’s consultation is the club’s second into the divisive issue.
This year’s survey showed that 18 percent of fans overall found the term “offensive,” whereas 35 percent of Jewish fans thought likewise, and 94 percent of all respondents acknowledged that the term could be seen as racist.
“While the intention of Spurs fans is good, and supportive of Jews, it is still a word that could cause offence,” said one fan, whose feedback was anonymised. “I am Jewish and find the regular use of the Y-word offensive. I don’t believe most Spurs fans understand its connotations and history.”
When respondents were asked whether they would like to see the use of the Y-word change on match days, 23 percent said they would like to see fans choose to chant it less, whereas 22 percent said they would like to see fans stop using it altogether.
The consultation was sent to all Spurs members, affiliates, and season ticket holders, 11 percent of whom are Jewish. The club said it represented “a substantial, robust and representative set of responses from across our fan-base”.
The club said fans’ use of the term in chants was “to deflect antisemitic abuse” they received from rival fans in the 1970s and 1980s but acknowledged that there was now less agreement as to whether that is still the case today.
“It would appear that the history and the motivations behind why fans adopted the term in the first place are being lost over time, with many fans today using it solely as a means to identify themselves as a Spurs supporter,” said the club.
The club also said almost half of the survey respondents felt fans’ use of the Y-word “contributed to a lack of clarity in terms of what is now considered antisemitic abuse”.
On its next steps, the club said: “We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and forward-thinking Club and these findings indicate the awareness our fans have of current sensitivities and a willingness to reconsider the appropriateness of the continued use of this term.”
It added that there would now be “a series of focus groups, giving supporters the chance to meet and exchange opinions with fellow fans with views from across the spectrum on this matter”.