“Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham are a load of Y...” Know what comes next?
Well if you are one of those singing it, the correct answer could be a criminal record.
Anti-Jewish racial abuse is a criminal offence, and that is the point made by a new video released today by the campaign to Kick Racism Out of Football.
In the video, Chelsea's Frank Lampard makes the point that singing, shouting or chanting the words 'Yid' or 'Yiddo' at a match is not only thoroughly offensive to a significant number of fans: it is also a criminal offence.
The video has been made by brothers David & Ivor Baddiel: East Stand season ticket holders at Stamford Bridge, who had heard the abuse one time too often. At a launch event in London today, they made the point that many people simply don't realise that the word they are using is the very same one that Nazi thugs used in the 1930s when millions of Jews were being marched off to the gas chambers.
“The film is not intended to censor football fans,” said David. “It is simply to raise awareness that the Y-word is – and has been for many, many years -a race hate word. It is our belief that some football fans may not even realise this, and the film is designed therefore to inform and raise debate.”
The hard-hitting film features footage of some Chelsea fans singing a song that includes the refrain 'Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz'; and makes the point that anti-Semitic chanting is neither a bit of a laugh, nor is it to be tolerated.
The film has the full backing of Chelsea Football Club, who were represented at the launch.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: “Chelsea FC has been campaigning about issues around anti-Semitism for many years. We have, and always will, take the strongest possible action against anyone making any kind of discriminatory chant or taunt. It is great to see the football world come together to support a project that will raise awareness of the problem.”
Watch 'The Y-word' video here: http://goo.gl/oR2zN
Speaking to people at today's launch of 'The Y-Word', many were astounded when I told them I still hear anti-Semitic chanting at, or around, almost every Chelsea match.
Very often, there will be thousands of people singing a word that is offensive to a great many people. To fans of other clubs, or those who do not attend football, this is difficult to comprehend.
When I first attended Chelsea in the early 1980s, use of the N-word was rife. Some of the people who used that word then; who booed Paul Cannoville when he became Chelsea's first black player; now happily sing Didier Drogba's name with pride every week. We managed to kick it out.
The world has changed, and football has too. Chelsea fans who think this is acceptable behaviour should get real.
“I'm not a racist,” say some when I speak to them. In many cases, I know this is true. But you don't have to be a racist to behave in a way that people, including the police, consider to be racially offensive.
“Why should we give up our history,” ask others. Because, like so much of history, these days it is outmoded and out of place in modern society.
“We're just singing about Spurs,” say yet more. Would that still be OK if Tottenham called themselves the 'N***** Army'? I think not. It does not change the fact that you are using language that the head of football cases at the Crown Prosecution Service today told me will get you a criminal record and a life ban if convicted.
And the reality is that the use of the Y-word of Chelsea very often is a stepping stone to something far darker and more offensive. In train stations, pubs and other places frequented on away days, I all too often hear people singing sings about Nazi murder camps. A bit of a laugh? Our history? I don't think any of our fathers or grandfathers who went to war to shut these places down would agree with that.
More than the offence caused, the strongest emotion I feel when I hear these chants at Chelsea is one of disappointment. I love Chelsea, and I love the fans that make this club what it is. I just feel let down when others see and hear some of them behaving in a way that is so totally inappropriate, and such an outdated relic of the bad old days.
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