Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Alexander: Spurs fans hold the key

The supporter was arrested during the half-time interval of Tottenham's match against West Ham at White Hart Lane

Tottenham supporters could do more to educate the wider community over their use of the word "Yid" according to an official fans group.

Spurs fans have come in for criticism over the use of the term, which in some instances is considered anti-Semitic, with one being arrested at half-time during Sunday's 3-0 defeat to West Ham for using it. He has been released on bail until November.

Darren Alexander, joint-chairman of the Tottenham Supporters' Trust, wants the club and fans to explain to the Jewish community why they chant "Yid army" but feels the approach taken by the Metropolitan Police is the wrong one.

While Alexander thinks no progress can be made on resolving the issue until that case comes to court he hopes a planned club consultation with fans can help to find a way forward.

"The whole police position on this issue is absolutely wrong," said Alexander, who is critical of the Metropolitan Police's policy of arresting Tottenham fans who use the term.

Both sets of fans travelling to the match at White Hart Lane had been warned by police that they could face arrest if they were heard chanting the word, which has been a recurring theme amongst Spurs supporters for some time.

Yid is a term for a Jewish person which is often considered derogatory, but fans of the north London club chant the word as an act of defiance against those who taunt them because of their links with the Jewish community.

Despite the police warning, home fans sang ''Yid army'' and "we'll sing what we want'' before kick-off and the chants did not cease throughout the match. Police confirmed that a 51-year-old man was arrested after committing a section five public order offence at half-time in the stadium's East Stand and he will now appear in court later next month.

The Tottenham Supporters Trust would like both fans and the club to explain to members of the Jewish community why fans use the term.

"It is different when Spurs fans use the term to when fans from other clubs use it," explained Alexander.

Once a consultation has been carried out if supporters come out against use of the term that will be respected, according to Alexander.

"We would do everything in our power to meet the test of transitioning our fans to a new identity or away from the present one," he added.

West Ham's fans had been under intense scrutiny before Sunday's game after last year's corresponding Barclays Premier League fixture was marred by a small section of the away support using anti-Semitic language and hissing loudly in an attempt to mimic the gassing of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Hammers' co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold, as well as manager Sam Allardyce, had pleaded with fans ahead of the game to avoid a repeat of such instances and, with no arrests linked to chanting made amongst their supporters, it appears the West Ham fans listened.

The Metropolitan Police on Monday confirmed that nine other arrests were made for other public order offences during and after the match, which the away team won courtesy of second-half goals from Winston Reid, Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison.

Sullivan issued a statement on Monday afternoon praising the behaviour of West Ham's travelling contingent.

"It was a truly memorable afternoon for West Ham United at White Hart Lane on Sunday and I want to personally thank our fans for the important role they played in it," he said.

"While Sam Allardyce's tactics and the players will rightly be praised for an absolutely outstanding 3-0 win at our local rivals, our fans made sure that today's headlines were all about football rather than events in the stands.

"On Sunday morning, I wrote an open letter to supporters attending the game to remind them they would be acting as ambassadors for our club. As expected, they did not let us down."

Sullivan also acknowledged the role played by his fellow chairman Gold, who himself is Jewish, in preventing a repeat of the distasteful chants from last season.

"They [the fans] also showed respect for the occasion and understanding of the magnifying glass that was on them in the build-up to the game," he added.

"I would also like to save a few words of praise for my joint chairman David Gold for the emotive and highly personal interview he did ahead of the game.

"Discrimination is an issue that is close to our hearts, which is why we were clear beforehand that it has no place at West Ham United."

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