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The Y-Word Must Go!

FZY Mazkir Jack Isaacs confronts the legacy and continued use of the 'Y-word' in football chants and asks, does anti-Jewish racism matter?

The Tottenham Hostpur Stadium (above)

On the 11th February 2022, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club released a club statement outlining that it’s “time to move on” from their supporters’ use of the Y-word. What followed at the very next Spurs game was the continuing use of the Y-word despite the findings of the club’s review calling for a stop.

The Y-word was originally used by Jewish supporters of the club 40 years ago as a way to deflect racist abuse against them. Over the years since the initial adoption of the term, Spurs fans have continued to use it as a “defence mechanism” against antisemitic abuse. However, the term is widely regarded as antisemitic in its use.

The Y-word is racist, so why should it stay in football?

In a sport that has seen several attempts to fight racism - with the majority of Premier League players taking a knee before games kick off and all clubs sporting “No Room for Racism” on shirt sleeves – why is this form of racist abuse still tolerated?

As a Jewish football fan and supporter of Premier League Champions Manchester City, I don’t like the use of this word in football or in society as a whole. Upon my numerous pilgrimages to the Etihad Stadium for home fixtures against Spurs, the frequent chanting of the Y-word from the away fans makes the man who sits next to us annoyed and angry. This gentleman isn’t Jewish and hearing the supporters of Tottenham Hotspur chant this term gets to him. Every time, he points out that they shouldn’t be allowed to do that whilst shaking his head.

All forms of discriminatory language are not tolerated in sports stadia and antisemitic language is not separate from this category.

An excuse posed by those continuing to use the Y-word is that it forms a “a sense of identity” with the football club. That simply cannot be true. Not all Tottenham fans are Jewish so, whilst for years they’ve chanted ignorantly, they are not what the word is about.

Listening to Sky Sports News on the day of the release of the club’s review, several Spurs fans were interviewed for their reaction to the statement. It’s noted that those individuals do not speak for all the club’s supporters, however hearing one of them state that they know it’s racist but they’ll continue to use it riled me up. You know you’re being racist but will continue to be? Make it make sense!

Exterior of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (above)

Jewish football supporters across the UK and the world who do not support Spurs are being made to feel that anti-Jewish racism, in the sport we love and spend a lot of money on, doesn’t really matter and that it’s okay.

It’s not!

Yes, Tottenham Hotspur have many Jewish supporters and are Jewish owned by Joe Lewis’ and Daniel Levy’s ENIC Group, but that does not make using insulting language towards Jewish people acceptable, even in an ironic nature. The hierarchy of the club have made an initial step into the end of the Y-word’s usage, let’s hope the supporters start to take note and distance themselves from being racist. If they choose not to listen, it’s down to the authorities involved, the FA, Premier League, club’s themselves and police to stamp out discrimination of all forms from the sport we love.

Words by Jack Isaacs


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