Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

AVB backs Cameron stance

David Cameron sees no problem with Spurs fans' 'Yid' chants unless they are motivated by hate

Andre Villas-Boas thinks David Cameron's comments regarding chants including the word 'Yid' will be music to the ears of Tottenham fans.

The Prime Minister joined the debate surrounding chanting of the word on Tuesday, telling the Jewish Chronicle that Spurs supporters should not be prosecuted by the police, so long as they are not motivated by hate.

"There's a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult," Cameron said.

"You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted - but only when it's motivated by hate."

Tottenham fans have called themselves "Yids" "Yiddos" or the "Yid Army" for many years as an act of defiance towards those who ridicule the club's links with the Jewish community.

The Football Association warned that such chanting could lead to a banning order or criminal prosecution, but the issue is muddied by the fact that police would have to prove the person chanting the Y-word did so with the idea of causing offence.

Tottenham insist there is no malice intended by the chanting, although they are planning to distribute a questionnaire to season ticket holders asking them if they think it is time to stop the chants.

On Wednesday, the club's manager Villas-Boas said he did not object to Cameron's involvement in the matter.

"He can get involved anywhere, he is the Prime Minister," Villas-Boas said.

"I think his intervention was probably what Spurs fans would want to hear.

"It was straightforward in what he came out with and it was clear."

The club's fans acted defiantly to the FA's statement last week when they chanted the Y-word during Spurs' win over Norwich on Saturday and they also repeatedly chanted "We'll sing what we want".

Several anti-discrimination groups have objected to the chanting of "Yid" at White Hart Lane, but Villas-Boas has given his backing to the club's stance.

Villas-Boas hopes the debate does not drag on without conclusion.

"Hopefully this won't be an ongoing debate that will lead to nowhere," the 35-year-old said.

"I think our fans sing it with pride, it is something that they defend. It is not sang with offence.

"I see no problem with it. The problem is finding out what is seen as an offence. That is why the FA has come out and made a statement so hopefully this won't become a debate that leads nowhere."

Villas-Boas' words came after players' leader Clarke Carlisle called on Tottenham to stop their fans using the word.

Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), said he agreed with the comedian David Baddiel who argued that there would be an outcry if a team with old roots in the black community appropriate racist language.

Carlisle told Press Association Sport: "Do they have a right to appropriate that term when it would be indescribably offensive to anyone else?

"David Baddiel says that's how it feels as a Jewish man going to Tottenham and hearing them chant that. If it is highly offensive to him then I think Spurs have to take that on board, because he will not be the only person.

"It is not for them to appropriate a derogatory offensive term that was used to belittle a whole section of society in a terrible era."

Carlisle, speaking at a book signing of his autobiography 'You Don't Know Me But... A Footballer's Life', pointed out that such chants breached the law.

He added: "I don't feel it's right. Spurs fans may not intend for it to be offensive but it will be perceived to be offensive by a section of the community and the law states that's not allowed - it's not even my personal opinion, that's what the law states."

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