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David Cameron Defends “Yid” Chant at Tottenham Games

The Prime Minister responded to the Football Association’s call to ban the chant Read More

By / September 23, 2013

It’s been a long weekend, what with the holidays and all, so here’s what you’ve missed in the United Kingdom’s football fandom controversy. There’s a debate going down between Prime Minister David Cameron and British comedian David Baddiel over the Tottenham Hotspurs’ fans’ use of the word “Yid” in their sideline chants. The Football Association came out and said that the word has anti-Semitic connotations and that fans continuing to chant the word could face stadium banning and legal action. Cameron decided to weigh in, defending Spurs fans—many of whom are Jewish—who chant “Yid” to describe themselves:

In an exclusive interview with the JC, the Prime Minister said that supporters of Tottenham Hotspur, who refer to themselves as Yiddos in terrace chants, should not face criminal charges. “Hate speech should be prosecuted, but only when it’s motivated by hate,” he said.

The FA explained that a reasonable observer would find the word offensive and Baddiel agreed.

Yid is a race-hate word. It was daubed across the East End by Oswald Moseley’s Blackshirts, along with the word Out. The only possible reason why a culture that has tried to dismiss other race-hate words to the margins of language would consider it acceptable is if the racism of which it is a part is somehow less offensive, somehow less significant, than other racisms. Which must be, I guess, what a lot of people consciously or unconsciously think – if it had been the N-word or the P-word, it wouldn’t have got past David Cameron’s lips.

Orthodox fans of the Spurs claim that Tottenham games are the safest spot for Jews in England. Chanting “Yid” or “Yid Army” is prideful in their stadium, however, at other teams’ games fans have used the chant derogatorily, Jake Wallis Simons writes in The Telegraph.

There are also, of course, other more troubling contexts in which the word is used. Baddiel recounts that at the Chelsea stadiums, one fan “decided to upgrade” the chant to “F– the f–ing Yids! F– the f–ing Jews!” And at many football grounds both in London and around the country, the chant is accompanied by hisses to represent the gas chambers, and “celebratory references to Auschwitz”. It would be hard to conceive of anything more offensive; this stuff must be dealt with.

Probably a good idea for Cameron to stay out of this one. The fans are taking a survey to decide if they want to get rid of the chant.