Tottenham Hotspur: ‘Time to move on from the Y-word’

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Tottenham Hotspur: ‘Time to move on from the Y-word’

'WhY Word Online’ platform goes live after 94 percent of 23,000 supporters surveyed recognised the word "Yid", which Spurs fans call themselves, “can be considered a racist term”.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

A Yid flag at the Champions League final.
A Yid flag at the Champions League final.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has issued a statement and results of a survey on the use of the Y-word by supporters claiming “now, more than ever, is the time to re-assess and re-consider its ongoing use.”

In club announcement, which included the results of a survey completed by over 23,000 fans, Spurs said the results showed: “Members of our fanbase feel uncomfortable with the Y-word’s continued use at matches.”

The club added: “Our supporters’ use of the Y-word was initially taken as a positive step to deflect antisemitic abuse that they were subjected to at matches more than 40 years ago from opposition fans, who faced no sanctions for their actions.

“The term continues to be used up to the present day by some of our supporters. We have always maintained that our fans have never used it with any deliberate attempt to offend.

“Indeed, among the reasons some fans choose to continue to chant the term now is to show unity and support for the team, as well as each other, as a defence mechanism against antisemitic abuse that still exists and also as a way to identify as a Spurs fan.

“Outside of a football setting, however, an overwhelming majority of our fans acknowledged in the first stage of our latest consultation that the Y-word can be considered as a racist term against a Jewish person and that they would therefore not use it in such a context.”

Spurs said the survey showed that supporters who were prepared to defend their position on why they use the term expressed an openness to its use being reduced if it caused offence to fellow fans.

This comes after brothers Ivor and David Baddiel, who are Chelsea supporters, waged a campaign against the use of the term.

Tottenham Hotspur fans holding a sign with the term ‘Yids’ in the stands during the Capital One Cup Semi Final, Second Leg at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. (Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.)

It also showed that fans, especially those of a younger generation, are often unaware of the term’s meaning and its historical context when chanting it.

Spurs said the club “recognise how these members of our fanbase feel” who raised concerns about the continued use of the Y word in the survey.

“They said we also believe it is time to move on from associating this term with our Club,” the update added.

Spurs continued:” The adoption of the Y-word by our supporters from the late 1970s was a positive response to the lack of action taken by others around this issue.

“An increasing number of our fans now wish to see positive change again with the reduction of its use, something we welcome and shall look to support.

“We acknowledge that any reassessment of the use of this term needs to be a collaborative effort between the Club and its fans.

“We shall be working to further outline the historical context of the term, to explain the offence it can cause and to embrace the times in which we now live to show why it can be considered inappropriate, regardless of context.”

The club concluded: “That now, more than ever, is the time to re-assess and re-consider its ongoing use.”

The move was welcomed by the Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism Lord John Mann. He said: “The use of the Y-Word as a defiant response from Jewish Spurs supporters was important in its time. However, increasingly its aggressive misuse to abuse Spurs, its fans, the club, and its owners has had negative consequences elsewhere.

“It is significant that the analysis I have done, of those who use the Y-Word as a Spurs linked identifier on social media are overwhelmingly not Jewish, nor ever advocate any positives about Jewish life. There are more people using the Y-Word identifier who repeat antisemitic tropes than those who identify as being Jewish.

Lord John Mann (Credit: Roger Harris – Parliament official portrait – Wikimedia Commons)

“The recent abuse from an open top bus in Stamford Hill, shows very vividly that this bold and important Tottenham Hotspur initiative is timely and the use of the Y-Word in football and in society has had its day. Kick It Out is launching a major education and training programme to enhance the tools available across the footballing world to support and deliver this change. I congratulate Tottenham Hotspur on their announcement and trust that other clubs will play their part in eradicating the use of the Y-Word throughout football.”

Former JLC chair Jonathan Goldstein – himself a loyal Spurs fan – said: “Tottenham should be commended for taking this stand. It’s a difficult issue but the Jewish Community has become increasingly uncomfortable with the usage of the phrase.

“The Tottenham fans have always used it with great affection and warmth yet that has not always been the case with other clubs and that is why this change needs to be made.”


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