The Metropolitan Police have issued a statement warning fans than chant the word “Yid” during Sunday’s Premier League clash between Tottenham and West Ham face being arrested.
The Met confirmed that officers will be deployed at White Hart Lane specifically to keep an eye on fans and ensure that they are not using the racial term.
A statement released earlier today read: “Some words - like the 'Y' word - which historically have been perceived by some as acceptable, cause harassment, alarm or distress to others, and people who use this language could be committing a criminal offence.”
Chief Superintendent Mick Johnson, who will be the match commander for Sunday’s encounter, added: “This topic has been debated at length but our position is clear, racism and offensive language have no place in football or indeed in society.
“Those supporters who engage in such behaviour should be under no illusion that they may be committing an offence and may be liable to a warning or be arrested.”
Spurs fans have regularly labelled themselves the “Yid Army” or “Yiddos”, having adopted the racial slur as their own to lessen its effect and meaning. Furthermore, the fans do no use the term in an aggressive of negative manner, and former players such as record goalscorers Jimmy Greaves has previously said he is “proud to be called a Yid”.
However, the Football Association has said that the anti-Semitic term is “derogatory and offensive” after the Society of Black Lawyers raised concerns over the use of the word. This followed a campaign by comedian and TV presenter David Baddiel – a Chelsea supporter – to rid the sport of the term which he, as a member of the Jewish community, found offensive.
The club has strong links within the north London Jewish community although fans of all types of background have adopted the term in an effort to support their team. When midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the opening goal in the London derby against Chelsea on Saturday, Spurs fans instantly burst into a chant of “Yiddos” despite having been warned that they could face criminal prosecution.
Last month, prime minister David Cameron waded into the argument after claiming it was fine for Spurs fans to chant the term as it was not in a derogatory manner.