Spurs fans warned over 'outdated' use of 'anti-Semitic insult' as CPS threaten criminal action

·4-min read
General view inside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 21, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. - GETTY IMAGES
General view inside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 21, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. - GETTY IMAGES

Tottenham Hotspur have been urged to take action over the "abusive and outdated" use of the word ‘Y--’ after the Crown Prosecution Service warned that supporters could now face criminal action.

In a letter to Telegraph Sport ahead of Sunday’s match between Spurs and Chelsea, the former Football Association chairman David Bernstein has also argued that defending the word as a term of endearment or self-designation is no longer acceptable. He says that football is encouraging its use in a more hostile context if it is not treated in the same way as racist slurs.

The Football Association and the CPS did previously try to tackle the ‘Y--’ reference in 2013 but charges were eventually dropped against fans who used the word. Tottenham intend to consult further with fans this year and there will be an educational campaign about its origins. The Jewish Charity, the Community Security Trust, has regularly described the word as “an anti-semitic insult”. Spurs have previously insisted that their fans have never intended to cause offence.

The European anti-racism network Fare acknowledged the long-standing context of the Tottenham supporters using the word in reference to their own fanbase, but told Telegraph Sport that it should now be eradicated.

“By now a campaign to educate people about it and a timeline to have it stopped being sung should have been in place,” said a Fare spokesperson.

“From a policy perspective it clearly falls within the legislation as a ‘racist term’. There should be no legal or operational blockages to it being educated out.”

Asked specifically about Tottenham fans using the word ‘Y--’, a CPS spokesperson said: “Discriminatory chanting has a severe negative impact on football and fans and we are continuing to work with football authorities, clubs, and charities to push this offensive behaviour out of the game.

“Chanting helps create the atmosphere that makes football great but any chants that are racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic could be a hate crime and we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone accused of these actions where there is sufficient evidence and in the public interest.”

The CPS has been taking a noticeably proactive stance to football chanting in recent weeks - it has warned that the term “rent boy” would be deemed a hate crime - but also stressed that there was more chance of someone being prosecuted if the offence involved hostility.

This behaviour is outdated and must cease now

By David Bernstein

The recent Yorkshire CCC debacle (apparently compounded by a supine ECB) is a clear example of behaviour which not many years ago might have been tolerated but is now beyond the pale

It is clear that the use of the N word, the P word or other like insults will not be tolerated in any circumstances. Why then should this not also apply to the use of the Y word which is equally insulting to many and has horrible historic connotations? In asking this question I am addressing the chanting at Tottenham Hotspur FC which continues week in week out.

In the eyes of some, this behaviour must make the use of the Y word more acceptable, in a wider and more hostile context. It does also lead to a reaction from some supporters of other clubs which contain references to gas chambers and other historic barbarities.

Up to now the above usage has been defended by apologists as a form of “endearment “ or “self-designation”. In fact when asked about this David Cameron (then Prime Minister) responded that the acceptability depended on the context. In other words if it was not meant maliciously then, whilst not ideal, it could be tolerated.

Well we live in a very different era and the above justifications are no longer acceptable. Undoubtedly if those other insults were being chanted the reaction of the public and those in authority would be one of outrage. Action would ensue.

Double standards. This behaviour is abusive and outdated and must cease now. If Spurs cannot deal with this then the FA and the EPL must act.

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