FA warn Tottenham fans over chants

The Football Association has warned supporters of Tottenham Hotspur not to engage in a chant popular among supporters of the Premier League club because of the possibility it could be considered anti-Semitic and open up fans to potential prosecution, BBC Sport has reported.

A large section of Tottenham supporters call themselves the “Yid Army”, the BBC notes, due to the club’s extensive Jewish fan base and the Jewish population of north London, where Tottenham are based. The phrase became used by Spurs fans as a form of identity after coming in for anti-Semitic abuse, but the FA has said the song containing the phrase should not be used for fear of legal reprisals.

Use of the term ‘Yid’ is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer,” an FA statement began. “Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence and leave fans liable to prosecution. The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation.

Tottenham supporters were targeted twice last season for acts of violence during the club’s Europa League campaign, with one supporter being stabbed in the thigh by a group of fans of Roma, while another group of Tottenham fans were attacked by a gang in Lyon. Two West Ham fans were also cautioned by police for making anti-Semitic gestures when the sides met at White Hart Lane.

A Tottenham statement said in reply: “We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this issue. Our fans historically adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term with any deliberate intent to cause offence.

We recognise that this is a complex debate and that, in the interests of encouraging a positive and safe environment for all supporters, consideration should be given to the appropriateness and suitability of its continued use. We are already in the process of engaging with our fans and shall be consulting more widely in due course.

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