The Football Association has issued a moratorium on the word, claiming that any fan caught chanting “Yid” could face criminal charges.
In a statement the FA said the term is “derogatory and offensive,” and that fans should refrain from using it on the terraces.
“The FA considers that the use of the term ‘Yid’ is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer and considers the term to be inappropriate in a football setting. The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation. Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offense, and leave those fans liable to prosecution and potentially a lengthy Football Banning Order.”
The ruling will have a particular effect on Tottenham, a club with noted links to the Jewish community that has long been the subject of anti-semitic abuse. In response to derogatory chants and hissing noises mimicking Holocaust gas chambers from opposing fans, Spurs supporters branded themselves “Yid Army” and often describe themselves as “Yids” as a badge of strength.
For Spurs fans, the use of the term is not intended to cause offense. But after Tottenham supporters were subjected to shocking anti-semitic attacks in Rome and Lyon during last year’s Europa League run, opinion was divided as to whether or not use of the word was counter-productive.
A Tottenham statement read: “We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this issue. Our fans historically adopted the chant as a defense mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-semitic abuse. They do not use the term with any deliberate intent to cause offense.
“Last season saw a number of incidents where fans were targeted by allegedly far-right activists on the Continent and subjected to anti-semitic abuse by opposition fans. Subsequently, the debate on this issue has two key considerations.
“Firstly, whether or not its use now plays a role in deflecting or attracting unjustified abuse, abuse that is inexcusable on any grounds; and secondly, whether it is liable to cause offense to others even if unintentionally. Our fans have themselves engaged in this debate following the events of last season.
“We recognize that this is a complex debate and that, in the interests of encouraging a positive and safe environment for all supporters, consideration should be given to the appropriateness and suitability of its continued use. We are already in the process of engaging with our fans and shall be consulting more widely in due course.”
Expect the FA to enforce the ban with non-Spurs supporters. Whether the directive will be heeded by Spurs fans – and whether police will enforce it against them – remains to be seen.
Past campaigns seeking to oust the term – one by Jewish Chelsea fan David Baddiel to end using the word in 2011 and one by Society of Black Lawyers chairman Peter Herbert urging police to prosecute fans bearing “Yid Army” banners in 2012 – failed to convince Spurs fans to cease using the word.