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Jewish bodies slam use of 'Y' word among football fans

Image: International Jewish organisations want an end to the 'Y' word

International Jewish organisations have condemned the use of the 'Y' word to describe Tottenham fans, a club that has historically called itself the 'Yid Army' due to its large Jewish fan base.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has insisted the word has "anti-Semitic connotations", citing Chelsea as a club that has taken steps to stop fans from using similar terms.

Chelsea issued a statement on New Year's Day, reminding fans that racism of any kind is "unacceptable" and "unwelcome" following allegations of anti-Semitic chanting during their Premier League 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.

It is alleged the offensive singing started when Palace forward and former Tottenham player Andros Townsend touched the ball.

There have been a number of incidents in recent weeks that prompted Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck to write an open letter to supporters condemning the actions of a "few mindless individuals".

The warning from the World Jewish Congress in New York comes just four days before Tottenham play Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

The WJC, that represents the Jewish community in over 100 countries, as well as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, released a joint statement on Friday demanding Tottenham take similar action against fans referring to themselves as "yids".

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WJC CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer said: "Contrary to the protests of many fans, there is no grey area when it comes to slurs that target a particular religious, racial, or ethnic group.

"The word yid has for years been re-appropriated from its original Yiddish to carry a distinctly pejorative and antisemitic message, and its use by fans in the stands, either as a self-designated nickname or as a slogan against rivals must not be tolerated in any way.

"The innocence this word once carried, as a simple translation for Jew, has long disappeared, and we must be extremely conscious of the antisemitic connotation it now bears.

"There has sadly been a long history of hooliganism and extremist behaviour within football, particularly in England, and we hope that the actions being taken in good faith by Chelsea's leadership to take punitive measures against any supporters that violate this code of conduct will help establish the groundwork for more tolerance among fans of all teams.

"We would also ask Tottenham Hotspur to take a stand against the use of 'Yid Army'."

Chelsea and the WJC last year launched Red Card for Hate a three-pronged program aimed at fighting racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and antisemitism.

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