Before the start of the football season, perhaps mindful of its shocking handling of the Luis Suárez/Patrice Evra racism affair, Liverpool issued a list of “unacceptable words” for fans to avoid chanting at Anfield. It contained all the usual sorry suspects such as the ‘N-word’ and Yid.
You’d have to misplace your moral compass to think these slurs have any place in a sports stadium, or anywhere in the civilised world. Unless, that is, you’re a wilfully wrongheaded Tottenham fan. Support Spurs you must convince yourself that “Yid” is the arbitrary exception.
Last week the Football Association warned fans that chanting the word “Yid” could result in a criminal conviction.
Cue inevitable objections from Spurs’ self-styled “Yid Army”, condoning in a stadium what they couldn’t on the street – dressing prejudice up in a lilywhite kit and calling it camaraderie.
The word stains the soul of every supporter who wears it with honour. Even the tiny minority of fans aware of its origins (a derogatory German term for ‘Jew’, used pejoratively since the 1890s, when Jewish immigrants from the East End began supporting the club) like to believe that by making “Yid Army” a signature tune alongside “When The Spurs Go Marching In”, they are ingeniously removing its sting. They know not what they do. The opposite is true.
Chanting “Yiddos” can’t reclaim the term any more than Brighton fans singing “We’re just a town full of faggots” reclaims the homophobia the city endures from opposing fans on account of its gay community.
On Saturday Tottenham fans eagerly ignored the FA’s directive, chanting the word during their match against Norwich.
Tellingly, there wouldn’t have been a single Jewish fan in the stadium as the game was played on Yom Kippur, the most religious day in the Jewish calendar.
Such stubborn stupidity goads opposing fans who need little excuse to lower themselves to the depths of racist abuse. Note Chelsea’s Yid-inspired version of “Spurs Are One Their Way To Wembley”: “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Sieg Heil, Hitler’s going to gas them again.”
A glance at Google reveals a litany of Yid-inspired abuse. West Ham fans sung Hitler’s name and made hissing noises – mimicking the gassing of Jews in the Holocaust – during a match at White Hart Lane last November.
The same month, Leeds fans took to Twitter to brand Tottenham player Adam Smith “a f****** diving Yid slag”.
In December, Huddersfield Town fan Gareth Smith found guilty of making a Hitler salute during match with local rivals Leeds United.
And Tottenham’s Jewish chairman Daniel Levy received so much “greedy, money-grabbing Yid” abuse on Twitter over last month’s sale of Gareth Bale that the intolerance was virtually trending.
It’s not just infecting the fans. Arsenal star Emmanuel Frimpong was fined by the FA after calling a Tottenham fan a “scum Yid” on Twitter.
The 21-year-old Ghanaian wasn’t being anti-Semitic. He was simply, justifiably, under the impression that “Yids” is the nickname of his side’s arch rivals. Arsenal are Gooners, Tottenham are Yids.
Frimpong could have sighted Wikipedia in his defence. On the encyclopedia’s “Football Club Nicknames” page, Under ‘Y’ next to “Yellows – Mansfield Town, for the colour of the home kit”, it helpfully states: “Yids – Tottenham Hotspur, – “for the club’s North London Jewish heritage”.
Prejudice as public record. Bigotry gets no more banal than that.
It’s encouraging that the typically toothless FA has come out from behind its empty “Kick It Out” slogans and finally taken a firm stand. But the biggest hurdle remains those Spurs supporters who wouldn’t bat a blinkered eyelid if referees started to dish out yellow stars instead of cards at White Hart Lane.
They should bloody well know better. And deep, deep down, they bloody well know it.