Spurs fans still ‘sing what they want’

By Marcus Dysch, September 24, 2013
Jimmy Greaves says he will risk arrest by chanting Yid (Photo: Getty Images)

Jimmy Greaves says he will risk arrest by chanting Yid (Photo: Getty Images)

Spurs supporters cheered their side to victory on Sunday with chants of “Yid army” and “we’ll sing what we want”, only days after the JC revealed that David Cameron sanctioned the use of the word that has caused so much controversy.

They defied threats of prosecution as their side beat Cardiff City in Wales — and even won the backing of one of their most celebrated players.

The prime minister said last week that Spurs fans should not be prosecuted for using the term unless their songs were motivated by hate.

His intervention sparked a flurry of comments from football fans and officials over the way in which Jewish and non-Jewish Tottenham supporters refer to themselves as the “Yid army” and to club’s players as “Yiddos”.

The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust has repeatedly defended fans, saying they used the Y-word in “a positive sense”.

The group also advised supporters that police were unlikely to take action if the same chants surfaced at Tuesday’s match at Aston Villa.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said Mr Cameron’s remarks had been “what the Spurs fans want to hear”, and that as long as supporters did not use the terms offensively they should be able to use them with “pride and passion”.

In another development, the Community Security Trust clarified its position and said Jewish fans should not be “criminalised or given banning orders for using the Y-word”.

But the charity said the term remained “offensive to many Jews both inside and outside the football context” and should be eradicated from stadiums.

The Board of Deputies agreed that while it found the term offensive, it did not believe it was always used to “foment hatred” and that it was not a matter for criminal prosecution.

Former Spurs and England striker Jimmy Greaves said he would refuse to stop using the Y-word and was prepared to be arrested for joining in the chants.

Mr Greaves, who is not Jewish, told the Sunday People he was “proud to be a Yid”. He said: “People are trying to sanitise a situation for no reason whatsoever and if they are going to get arrested then I am going to stand up and shout it myself so I can be arrested as well. Do you seriously think that Tottenham supporters are chanting it as a racist remark?”

Lord Mendelsohn, a long-standing Spurs supporter, said the club’s fans were essentially being held accountable for the “antisemitic views, sentiments or thoughts” of others.

The possibility of Spurs fans being prosecuted was “rather like blaming the victims and asking people to keep their heads down — that’s not where contemporary thinking should be”, he said.

But comedian David Baddiel, who has led the campaign against the Y-word with his brother Ivor, wrote in the Guardian that the use of “Yid” always constituted race-hate.

“Any campaign aimed at stopping the chanting of antisemitic abuse at football matches can’t then say: ‘But of course it’s OK for this one set of fans because they mean it nicely.’ It’s simply not workable,” he wrote.

The debate came after the Football Association suggested fans using the Y-word could be liable to criminal charges.

Last updated: 3:44pm, September 24 2013