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Anorak | Kick The Language Police Out Of Football: Spurs’ Yid Army Empowers London’s White Niggers

Kick The Language Police Out Of Football: Spurs’ Yid Army Empowers London’s White Niggers

by | 22nd, April 2011

A NEW campaign to stamp out the use of the word “Yid“, meaning Jew in Yiddish, from English football will do nothing to combat anti-Semitism. Instead, it will undermine football fans’ freedom to form and define their own group identities while hindering real prejudice from being identified and challenged.

The Jewish comedian David Baddiel and his brother Ivor, both Chelsea fans, have directed a video together with Kick Racism out of Football  in which some top British players castigate Tottenham Hotspur fans and their opponents for using “the Y-word” in terrace chants. The Baddiels want to make “the Y-word” as socially unacceptable as “the N-word” and “the P-word”.  In the video, former footballer Gary Lineker explains that “back in the 1930s and forties, Jewish people all over Europe were being rounded up and killed. People called them Yids.

But this short and patronising history lesson overlooks the fact that the history of the Yid Army, as Tottenham Hotspur fans call themselves, is in reality a powerful example of how to challenge racism.

There are various theories as to exactly when Spurs fans started referring to themselves as “Yids” and “Yiddos”. By most accounts, such words were originally used as an anti-Semitic provocation by opposing fans, but the Spurs, who have always had a sizeable Jewish fan base, appropriated it in the 1960s as a badge of honour. “The Yid Army” thereby lessened the racist impact of the word and got one up on their rivals.

But while Spurs fans may use the word with pride and with positive intent, anti-racism campaigners say, Jewish people may find it offensive and, moreover, Spurs rivals are less benign. For instance, a favourite chant among Tottenham opponents is “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Sieg Heil, Hitler’s going to gas them again“.

It is understandable if some find such chants uncomfortable, but it is also worth remembering that what happens on the terraces more often than not stays on the terraces. Nasty chants and competitive banter are part of the game and football fans, no matter how unsophisticated they may appear to the likes of the Baddiels, know the difference between saying Spurs fans are on their way to a concentration camp and actually sticking Jews in an oven. In other words, chants at sports stadiums should not be interpreted literally. For instance, it’s hard to believe that Hapoel Tel Aviv supporters truly want to “put Jerusalem in Jordan”, as they chant during games against their rival club Beitar Jerusalem.

Baddiel himself apparently finds chants with “the Y-word” threatening and insulting. In an interview or the BBC, he recalled a nasty incident during a Chelsea game when a supporter started shouting “Fuck the Jews” as the Tottenham scoreline came up on the board. It ended in an uncomfortable confrontation. But this experience does not legitimise Baddiel taking on the role of language police and deciding on everyone else’s behalf that we can’t cope with hearing racial chants.  Just because Baddiel can’t differentiate between words and actions, that doesn’t mean the rest of us will automatically become either violent bigots or emotionally scarred for life upon hearing racial terms.

Moreover, if the nasty individual that Baddiel came across was truly anti-Semitic, rather than just anti-Spurs, hindering him from expressing his views won’t necessarily change them. To the contrary, attacking the surface expressions of racism will only push it out of view – and this makes it impossible to confront and challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry head on.

The Baddiels’ infantilising video reveals a haughty attitude to football fans, who they seem to believe are completely ignorant about the historical uses of the word Yid or can’t be trusted to use it in a responsible way – unlike Baddiel, apparently, whose Twitter biography simply says “Jew“. (Perhaps someone should explain to him that Jew is English for Yid.)

The campaign to obliterate the “Y-word” from English football is yet another attempt to “correct” the behaviour of football fans – and it’s a direct attack on the Spurs’ right to formulate their own group identity and game experiences. Well, at least it was heartening to see that the Yid Army defied the language police by proudly singing Yid chants during Wednesday’s north London derby.



Posted: 22nd, April 2011 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink