A Tottenham Hotspur fan was arrested in connection with chanting the word “Yid” at Spurs’ home game against West Ham United at the weekend.
The unnamed 51-year-old man was arrested at half-time in the east stand at White Hart Lane stadium. He was held in custody at a north London police station and subsequently bailed to appear in November while the police carried out an investigation.
According to the police, the man was arrested for a “section five public order offence”, which deals with aggravated or threatening behaviour — suggesting the fan behaved in an aggressive way that went beyond general chanting.
A police spokesman said: “It’s entirely possible that his charges will be related more to aggression or harassment, but if people are going to continue to use this word around particular football matches, then they’re going to find themselves in contact with police.
“The best option by miles is to heed advice and not use the word.”
If people continue to use this word, they will come into contact with police
Before the game, chief superintendent and match commander Mick Johnson said that “racism and offensive language have no place in football” and warned that such chanting could lead to official warnings or arrests.
Last month the Football Association issued guidance that fans chanting the word “Yid” could be liable to criminal prosecution.
The move angered Spurs fans who refer to themselves as “Yid army” and the club’s players as “Yiddos”.
At Sunday’s match hundreds of Spurs’ fans defied the FA warning by using the Y-word in chants.
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust chairman Darren Alexander said the arrest of the Spurs fans highlighted “unfair” policing in the ground.
He claimed that there was a significant police presence around the home supporters, while West Ham fans were allowed to chant antisemitic slogans and hiss, a reference to the gas chambers in concentration camps.
He said: “There was heavy police activity in certain parts of the stadium, but the West Ham fans were unpoliced enough to hiss. One of them reportedly did a Nazi salute.
He added: “To have the police only stopping Spurs’ fans from singing the Y-word means they’re still not attacking the source [of antisemitic chanting].”
In response to the suggestion of unequal policing, a Metropolitan police spokesman said: “All fans were equally monitored for this kind of chanting and the actions undertaken for offensive language applied to all fans.
He added: “It was not practical to arrest large parts of the crowd, but appropriate measures were taken where needed. We police games equally.”
News of the arrest comes a week after another Spurs fan was issued an official warning by police at White Hart Lane. Paul Baines was warned for chanting the Y-word, but no further action has been taken.