Sing What You Want To: Spurs And Ajax Fans Should Teach Lodz How To Handle Anti-Semitic Abuse
CNN’S James Masters, reports on news that the Polish prosecutor says Lech Poznan fans chanting “Move on, Jews! Your home is at Auschwitz! Send you to the gas (chamber)!” to Widzew Lodz supporters is not anti-Semitic.
Polish football writer Michal Zachodny tells CNN: “This case is being discussed a lot in Poland and rightly causing critique of the system and its decision. Although the PZPN, the Polish Football Association, has introduced stricter laws and are more proactive in dealing with such problems than they were, there is no plan, no willingness to do anything with the problem. There is no special police line to report abuse anonymously.”
Is doing the Poznan turning your back not only on the action but also on racism?
No. Prosecutor Monika Rutkowsk says the Poznan fans’ chants were directed at the opposing team and not specifically at Jews.
She’s right. The aim is to upset the opposition, to make them gnash their teeth and feel the sting of insult. Best of all if they cry. The chant is unpleasant because it’s meant to be. Do Poznan fans greet a workmate of family member who supports Lodz with an order to be gassed? It’s unlikely.
Lech Poznan have responded, issuing this statement: “The club has already expressed its condemnation of this type of behaviour and has fulfilled its obligations to the police and prosecutors. The club does not deal in the prosecution of groups of fans, because this is the task of the aforementioned police and prosecutors. One of the aims of the club is to educate its fans, to talk with them and eradicate certain issues. This approach has been in place at the club for many years.”
Who goes to the match to be educated? But CNN is keen to educate its readers. We get a spot of history:
Known as a “Jewish club” in the same way as English team Tottenham Hotspur and Dutch side Ajax are, Widzew and the city’s smaller club, LKS Lodz, are often taunted by rival team’s fans… The problems within Polish football are not confined to Poznan and Lodz — Krakow and Warsaw witness similar incidents whenever those cities’ clubs play each other. Cracovia, a club founded by Jews in 1906, endures a hateful relationship with its Krakow city rival Wisla, which is driven by anti-Semitism. Wisla’s hardcore supporters, known as the “Anti Jude Gang,” are infamous for their chanting and banners, even though the club has signed Jewish players in the past.
The mention of Spurs is interesting. Last year, the ridiculous Society of Black Lawyers demanded that Tottenham fans stopped singing “Yid Army”, refrain from saluting ejected fans and players and with cries of “Yiddo! Yiddo!”and all and any other mention of Yids. The FA stated: “Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence and leave fans liable to prosecution.” Calling yourself a Yid must be outlawed.
Journalist Hans Knoop says: “When they yell ‘Jews, Jews!’ or ‘Super Jews,’ it’s about firing up the team and nothing else.”
Says one Spurs fan:
“I used to work for a wine merchant, and I used to do a lot of deliveries to the BBC at White City. I remember walking along with a trolley load and seeing Les Ferdinand coming towards me, this was after he’d finished at Tottenham and he was a pundit, and I gave him a big ‘Yiddo!’ as he came past. He cracked a big grin and said ‘Cheers, mate, nice one!’.”
The professionally offended and knowing want to control what Spurs fans say, even if it is positive and used as means of identification. In response to the FA’s demands to cut it out, Spurs fans chanted “We’ll sing what we wan to”. Good. We should all join in.
As Duleep Allirajah writes:
What the ‘You can’t say that’ brigade fails to understand is that the trading of terrace insults is just pantomime. The taunts are largely ironic. We don’t really believe that Scousers are hubcap thieves or that Welsh fans are sheep shaggers. It’s just banter. Equally, I very much doubt that anyone on the receiving end of these playground taunts is genuinely hurt. In Italy, the football authorities sadly fail to see the irony of these regional jibes. In October, AC Milan were ordered to play a match behind closed doors after their fans had sung a little ditty suggesting that Neapolitans were dirty, smelly cholera-victims. However, in a remarkable and heartwarming show of solidarity, the Napoli fans staged a protestdemanding the right to be insulted. They chanted anti-Napoli insults and unfurled a banner proclaiming: ‘[We are] Naples cholera-sufferers. Now close our curva!’
Instead of ringing 606 to complain about offensive songs, British fans ought to follow the Napoli example. It’s time to grow a thick skin and stand up for the right to be offensive.
This is a trailer for Nirit Peled’s film Superjews:
Lodz fans should take note. Don’t take being called Yids who deserve to be murdered as an insult. Mock it for the stupidity it represents. (Do Poznan fans really want to shout about agreeing with the Germans who raped their country? Do you really want to be the collaborators?) Don’t whine about this pathetic abuse, Lodz fans. Say ‘Up yours’ to Poznan. Just as Ajax fans are the “Superjews”, dressed in Star of David hats, waving Israeli flags and belting out Hava Nagila and Spurs fans declare “We are the Yids”, Lodz fans can subvert the abuse.
Sing what you want to.