Three Tottenham Hotspur supporters have become the first football fans to be charged with criminal offences for using the term “Yid”.
The charges relate to incidents during matches at the club’s White Hart Lane Stadium against FC Sheriff in the Europa League last November and a Premier League game with West Ham United in October.
Supporters Gary Whybrow, 31, of Ealing; Sam Parsons, 24, of Amersham, Buckinghamshire; and Peter Ditchman, 52, of Bishop’s Stortford, Essex, will appear at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on February 4.
They are charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour. The alleged offences were racially aggravated.
Mr Ditchman is also charged with possessing cocaine when arrested.
The Football Association issued new guidance last September which suggested that fans using the Y-word could be liable to criminal prosecution.
That led to widespread debate over the use of the term by Spurs fans — who identify themselves as “Yids” and call the club’s players “Yiddos” — and by supporters of opposing teams.
In a statement, the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust said it had worked closely with its lawyers “to establish a defence to these charges.
“It remains our firm belief that, when used in a footballing context by Tottenham supporters, there is no intent or desire to offend any member of the Jewish community.”
Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, said the CST’s position was that “the way Spurs fans usually use the Y-word does not justify prosecution”.