Tottenham fans have defied a plea from the club by continuing to chant the Y-word.
The chant was repeatedly voiced during Spurs’ Premier League clash with Wolves on Sunday.
But less than three minutes into their meeting with Wolves, fans were heard chanting the Y-word.
Sky Sports’ Mark McAdam, who was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, reported: „We’ve been reporting on Sky Sports News throughout the course of this week how the club has asked fans to stop using the ‘Y-word’ on a matchday – less than three minutes into the game and I can hear the ‘Y-word’ being used around the stadium by a number of people, people are now shouting it at me.
„So, clearly the statement that came out on Thursday from the football club asking for the fans to stop using that word has fallen on deaf ears and within three minutes here I want to be talking about the football not about an antisemitic chant that the club has very kindly asked its fans to stop saying.“
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones, also in attendance at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, added: „Despite the calls from the club for Spurs fans to stop chanting the ‘Y-word’ – it’s not been reciprocated by the home fans.
„On at least seven occasions during the first half – whenever there was something to shout about – the word was chanted in some form, most of the noise coming from the South Stand where Tottenham were attacking that half. It was also chanted towards Ryan Sessegnon as he walked around the pitch when substituted.“
Tottenham make plea against the Y-word
Spurs held a review of the use of the Y-word, holding focus groups with some of the club’s fanbase which concluded in the summer of 2020.
In highlighting some of the key findings, Spurs revealed:
- Members of their fanbase feel uncomfortable with the Y-word’s continued use at matches.
- 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.
- Supporters, especially those of a younger generation, are often unaware of the term’s meaning and its historical context when chanting it.
- That now, more than ever, is the time to re-assess and re-consider its ongoing use.
Spurs said in the statement: „We recognise how these members of our fanbase feel and we also believe it is time to move on from associating this term with our club.
„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.“
Baddiel: Confusion the problem behind removing Y-word
Ivor Baddiel, who along with brother David made a documentary called ‘The Y-word’ for the Kick It Out campaign in 2011, told Sky Sports News the use of the Y-word had sewn confusion among Tottenham’s fanbase, given supporters could face police intervention if they used it outside of a matchday setting.
He said: „It’s a complex issue but at the forefront is the terrible confusion the use of the word causes. You could be arrested for saying it out on the streets, and then walk 100m, use it in the stadium, and not be arrested.
„At its worst, there are horrendous chants from other clubs, which are absolutely abhorrent. But I would argue the confusion is such that even when singing a chant like that, people don’t realise they’re offending Jews, they think they’re just having a go at Tottenham.
„The statement is very welcome from Tottenham and I applaud it. I think it’s all about Tottenham fans and other fans taking on board what they said, thinking about it, and coming to that decision themselves.
„It’s a difficult one to police, I was watching the game on Wednesday and you could hear it loudly in the stadium. I find that upsetting and annoying, but you can’t ban them all or arrest them all.
„My mother was born in Nazi Germany, we lost relatives in the Holocaust. How can it not be upsetting in any context?“
His brother David went further in an interview with Sky News in February 2020 when he questioned Tottenham’s right to reclaim the word, and said the link between the club and the Jewish community was „mainly mythical“.
He said: „The vast majority of fans of the club, including those who self-designate as Y-words, are not Jewish and therefore have no right of ‘reclamation’.
„What it will weirdly give succour to is the sense that Tottenham fans, rather than Jews, ‘own’ this race-hate word for Jews, a word that blackshirts painted on shops in the East End of London.“
In recent years, efforts have been made to try to convince Tottenham fans to cease using the term, amid claims it is continuing to fuel antisemitism within football.
In 2013, the Football Association even warned fans that using the word could result in criminal charges.
Jewish groups have branded the word antisemitic, whatever the context it is used in.
A record number of antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2021, ranging from abuse to GBH and threats to kill.
The Community Service Trust (CST), a charity that collects data on anti-Jewish abuse, recorded 2,255 incidents in 2021, up by 34 per cent from 1,684 in 2020.
The figures include 176 violent incidents, three of which involved grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life.