FA to work with north London rivals in order to wipe out offensive chanting


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The Independent Online

The Football Association will work in collaboration with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal to prevent a repeat of Sunday's offensive chanting at White Hart Lane. Elements of both Spurs and Arsenal fans sang contemptible songs during Tottenham's 2-1 victory. Rather than charging the clubs, the FA will be speaking to both of them in the hope of avoiding a repeat in the return fixture at the Emirates Stadium on 25 February next year.

In response to Sunday's game, during which home and away fans targeted Arsène Wenger and Emmanuel Adebayor respectively, the FA will talk and work proactively with the north London sides. There is an FA code of best practice for these issues, as well as positive examples of clubs trying to prevent offensive chanting: Sir Alex Ferguson's public stance regarding the treatment of Wenger at Old Trafford is well-regarded within the game.

This preventative approach will be accompanied by a reactive one. Spurs and Arsenal confirmed in a joint statement last night that they will work together to identify Sunday's worst offenders. "Both clubs were extremely disappointed to hear the chants from supporters at yesterday's game," the statement read. "We shall be working closely with each other to identify the individuals involved." Spurs are also gathering evidence regarding the claim that Arsenal's Bacary Sagna was spat on while injured.

While the clubs may take action against some fans, there is little prospect of action under the Football Offences Act (1991). In 2009 prosecutions were brought against Spurs fans for abusing Sol Campbell, resulting in Portsmouth magistrates' court issuing three-year football bans and fines for six supporters. The allegedly homophobic and racist angle to those songs qualified them as harassment, though, rather than merely distressing. Until there is a complaint to the Metropolitan Police regarding harassment, they cannot act.

Neither will there be FA charges against Tottenham or Arsenal. The FA obliges clubs to ensure that their supporters refrain from "violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour". This was one of two charges of which West Ham were found guilty in January 2010, after crowd trouble marred their Carling Cup match against Millwall at Upton Park, resulting in a £115,000 fine. A similar charge following Sunday's events is thought to be unlikely.