Arsenal fans have been warned not to use the word “yid” when they are chanting in the north London derby at White Hart Lane next week. Tottenham supporters use the term themselves and even label their own following as the Yid army. And fans of other teams universally refer to them as this, with many anything but racist, merely using is as they might the Geordies, Mancs, Scousers or the Chavs. But a new campaign has just been launched to stamp out use of the word in football song which mock Jewish and Tottenham supporters.
The campaign, supported by Chav Frank Lampard and, er, that nice bloke Ledley King, warns that while racism has become unacceptable in the stands, anti-Semitism remains dangerously commonplace. So-called comic David Baddiel, whose Jewish mother was forced to flee Nazi Germany during the Second World War, has made a film exploring the problem, entitled The Y-Word, which he hopes will spark a shift in attitudes among fans.
Chav fan Baddiel, 46, said: “Anti-Semitism is the other racism in football, and, because it so lags behind in visibility to racial abuse of black players, it is hardly ever discussed. It’s an important issue, not least because, in my experience, there are more Jewish fans at most grounds than black ones – it is virtually impossible to be Jewish and male and not interested in football – and I know that they all dread the starting up of these chants.”
He added: “The film is not intended to censor football fans. It’s simply to raise awareness that the Y-word is, and has been for many, many years, a race hate word. It’s our belief that some football fans may not even realise this, and the film is designed therefore to inform and raise debate.”
The words “yid” or “yiddo”, meaning Jew, have been used for decades to identify Tottenham supporters but campaigners claim the phrase is often taken too far, with chants against Spurs turning viciously anti-Semitic. The film, which also features former England striker Gary Lineker, includes YouTube footage of fans singing: “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Sieg Heil, Hitler’s going to gas them again.”
The campaign, organised through the anti-racism group Kick It Out, has also won the backing of the Football Association and numerous premier league clubs, including us and Chelsea. The issue has been raised previously when fans have been accused of overstepping the mark with anti-Semitic taunts, but many supporters have said they use the term “yid” themselves as a “badge of honour” and are not offended by it.