The Jewish Leadership Council’s chairman said he had a change of heart on the acceptability of Tottenham Hotspurs fans’ use of the Y-word during matches.
Jonathan Goldstein, a “lifelong and committed” Spurs fan who previously defended supporters’ use of the term, revealed he changed his mind amid rising levels of antisemitism.
The racial slur has been used by some supporters in football chants due to the club’s historically Jewish fan-base, stirring much controversy in recent years.
Goldstein explained the reasons for his sudden volte-face in a joint-column written with his fellow Spurs fan, the Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard.
The Evening Standard published the piece entitled “Fellow Spurs fans: please stop using the Y-word” on Monday ahead of Saturday’s match against Chelsea.
“Anti-Jewish racism has moved from the margins into the mainstream and the battle against this hatred is now one of the defining issues of our time,” the two authors warned.
“In that context, it is no longer possible for Spurs fans to act as if we exist in a vacuum. Anti-racist campaigners say that by using the word, Spurs fans make it harder for those who seek to highlight and tackle anti-Jewish racism,” they added.
According to a survey of 23,000 supporters, released by Tottenham Hotspurs last December, nearly all those polled (94 percent) acknowledge the term can be viewed as antisemitic.
A third admitted to using the Y-word “in a footballing context”, while another 12 percent said they would use the term outside of the sport.
18 percent said they consider the term “offensive” and do not use it within a footballing context – the number rises to over a third for Jewish respondents.
According to a statement by the club, the term was “historically adopted by Spurs fans as a defence mechanism in order to ‘own’ the term and thereby deflect antisemitic abuse at that time in the 1970s.”
Jewish News has long campaigned for the Y-word to be banned in football stadiums.