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SBL claim Spurs chants encourage racist remarks

Tottenham Hotspur fans watching a previous game. Photo credit: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Tottenham Hotspur fans watching a previous game. Photo credit: Stephen Pond/EMPICS

Saturday, November 10, 2012
10:16 AM

Tottenham supporters who use the word “Yid” are guilty of provoking opposing fans in to chanting their own anti-Semitic songs, the Society of Black Lawyers has claimed.

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The SBL have been at odds with Tottenham over the singing of the words “Yid” or “Yiddo” and the phrase “Yid Army”.

The lawyers’ group, headed by chair Peter Herbert, have vowed to report anyone using such terms at White Hart Lane to the police, but Spurs have defended their fans by saying they only object to anyone using the term “if it is used with the deliberate intention to cause offence”.

Spurs, who traditionally have a strong Jewish following, say their fans have adopted the chants “as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse.”

But Herbert denied that was not the case today, claiming the chanting was causing opposing fans to take up racist songs of their own.

“The Football Association (FA) know that whenever these chants are made it is opposing fans who are encouraged to make racist remarks,” Herbert said.

“They almost use it as an excuse. Some of them say ‘oh well Tottenham do it’...

“There is a lot of anti-Semitism that comes out because of this chanting. Whoever starts it, we object.”

It appears highly unlikely that Tottenham fans will stop using the controversial terms before the SBL’s deadline of November 20. They sent out a clear message of defiance on Thursday night when they chanted “Yid Army” throughout the club’s 3-1 home win over Maribor.

Herbert thinks a public statement from the police vowing to prosecute anyone found guilty of using the term, regardless of whether it is intended to cause offence or not, would help put a stop to the chanting.

“If the Met police say they are going to look at prosecutions then there is a good chance it will stop,” Herbert said.

“If the Met do say there is a potential offence being caused here then the game changes.”

Herbert yesterday accused the FA of hypocrisy given their recent public campaign to rid the game of discrimination.

“I would think this is a political embarrassment. You can’t go and complain about racism and anti-Semitism in Serbia and then have it happening in your own back yard,” Herbert said, referring to the monkey chanting aimed at England’s Under-21 players in Serbia last month.

“It doesn’t make sense that they can make White Hart Lane a no go area for law.”

The FA denied Herbert’s claim last night in a statement which read: “The FA acts on all reported incidents of discrimination and we continue to work with both Tottenham Hotspur and the Crown Prosecution Service on the matter of anti-Semitic chanting.

“The FA takes all matters of discrimination with the utmost seriousness and encourages the reporting of any such incidents through the appropriate channels.”

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Tottenham Hotspur

Nickname: The Lilywhites.

Ground: White Hart Lane (capacity 36,310).

Founded: 1882.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1951, 1961

Second Division: 1920, 1950.

Southern League: 1900.

FA Cup: 1901, 1921, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1991.

League Cup: 1971, 1973, 1999, 2008.

Uefa Cup: 1972, 1984.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1963.

Leading goalscorers: Jimmy Greaves, 379.

Leading appearances: Steve Perryman, 854.