Bid to banish 'Yiddo' chants from English football
A new campaign against anti-Semitism in English football targets the ''Yiddo'' chants by Tottenham fans - many of them Jewish.
The Kick It Out organization says the chant often results in variations of the term ''Yid'' being hurled back with venom at Tottenham fans by rival supporters.
''For some reason some fans still shout the Y-word,'' Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard says in the new Kick It Out video message being sent to clubs. ''Some might think it's just a bit of a laugh, but racist chanting is against the law. It's against the law to call someone the Y-word on the street.''
Tottenham, which has traditionally drawn a large fan base from the Jewish communities of north London, is careful not to condemn its own followers, who call themselves the ''Yid Army.''
''Historically the 'Y-word' chant has been adopted by Spurs fans as a 'call to arms' in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse,'' Tottenham executive director Donna Cullen said. ''A small number of both Jewish and non-Jewish Spurs fans use the 'Y-word' in what they consider to be an inoffensive manner.
''The defining principle has always been whether or not the term is being used in a manner and in a tone which is deliberately intended to cause offense. In incidences which have resulted in prosecution of opposition fans, this has been the differentiating factor.''
The biggest concern is that ''Yiddo'' chants that might seem innocuous lead to far more sinister chants raining down the stands across the country.
''The Y-Word'' video, which was officially released Thursday, features an internet clip of fans hissing, ''Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz ... Hitler's going to gas them again.''
''It is unthinkable and wholly unacceptable that in this day and age supporters are subjected to anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to imitate the gas chambers used during the Holocaust,'' Cullen said.
It was anti-Semitic abuse at Chelsea that inspired two Jewish brothers, who are prominent in Britain's TV industry, to produce ''The Y-Word'' video.
With Chelsea hosting Aston Villa in October 2008, Blues fans David and Ivor Baddiel were horrified to hear foul-mouthed chants after the result of Tottenham's match against Hull was announced at Stamford Bridge.
''A large section of the crowd at Chelsea were gleefully chanting, 'Yiddo, Yiddo,''' said Ivor Baddiel, an author and writer for TV shows. ''My brother and I have been going to Chelsea for 30 years now and it's happened quite a lot and we have tolerated it despite feeling uncomfortable.''
But what enraged Baddiel was when a fan started bellowing ''(Expletive) the Yids, (Expletive) the Jews.''
''I'm a mild-mannered man,'' Baddiel said. ''But I snapped. I stood up and confronted the guy and told him to shut up. Incredibly he shut up ... Then I said to my brother, 'Enough is enough, we've got to do something about it.'''
The Baddiels turned to Kick It Out, a British group that campaigns for equality and inclusion in football and helped to largely eradicate the racial abuse of black players in England.
It took almost three years to produce the ''Y-Word'' campaign. Hoping to avoid offending or blaming Tottenham fans, the film required months of editing and rewriting.
''The changes were made to ensure it was obvious this was the whole of football's problem,'' Baddiel said.
Baddiel believes Tottenham fans should not use the term ''Yids,'' even if it is not meant spitefully.
''I don't agree where they are coming from ... the cons outweigh the pros,'' Baddiel said. ''If Spurs call themselves 'Yids,' it leads to other teams chanting it back at them in a negative way with hatred which leads to those other chants about the Holocaust.''
''The Y-Word'' film is set to be aired before matches in grounds across London, where the problem is perceived to be greater.
''Clubs are keen on one level to take on racism but also keen that their club should not be seen as racist,'' said David Baddiel, the comedian who co-wrote the English football anthem ''Three Lions.''
Tottenham sees ''The Y-Word'' as a starting point for a debate on a wider issue.
''Whilst we recognize the sensitivities around the use of the Y-word, this is only one aspect of the debate when tackling anti-Semitism,'' Cullen said.