London’s Tottenham football team issued an impassioned defense of their fans’ right to use the term “Yid” in their sports chants, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, an anti-racism body, lodged a complaint recently against the club, whose supporters have historically referred to the team as the “Yid Army”, saying the chants are “40 years out of date” and threatening to bring a prosecution of racism if they do not come to an immediately stop.
The society claims such chants are anti-Semitic and unacceptable in contemporary society.
The nickname was adopted in the middle of the 20th century when Tottenham was a predominantly Jewish London neighborhood. The nickname, however, has also inspired fans from opposing teams to mock the “Yid Army” with hisses to simulate the sound of gas chambers used to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.
“In discussions with members of the Jewish community, we were made aware that this practice is still continuing and it has to come to an end,” Herbert told Sportsmail, adding that if such chants do not immediately stop he would report the matter to the Metropolitan Police Service for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.
Tottenham hit back by issued a statement saying, “The club does not tolerate any form of racist or abusive chanting…. Our fans adopted the chant as a defense mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any offence, they use it as a chant among themselves.”
The Daily Mail article quoted Herbert as saying, “What we are trying to do is change a culture. What we are saying to Tottenham is: ‘Maybe this was okay 50 years ago – but it isn’t now.’”
“Even if it is from Tottenham supporters, it remains casual racism. We understand it is a difficult, and for some an uncomfortable, stance to take, but we feel it is the right stance,” he said.