Tottenham fans can’t reclaim the Y-word, it doesn’t belong to them

Tottenham fans can’t reclaim the Y-word, it doesn’t belong to them

  • Tottenham are the Yid Army, meaning, to other fans, Spurs remain The Yids 
  • Football is the only area the word can have a positive and negative connotation
  • It is an unhelpful mess – greater thought should be applied when using ‘Yid’
  • Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp deserves more praise for his work at Liverpool 

So, let’s say some Chelsea fans, appalled by the language directed at Raheem Sterling during the last home game, decided to reclaim those words as a means of removing their sting.

Let’s imagine they called themselves the Black C*** Army and made it their rallying cry, too. And that it caught on. And that in the stands at Stamford Bridge, several thousand people began singing it during matches. The majority of them white people, obviously.

How long do you think that movement would last before a very angry club official walked in — maybe the one who crafted the statement accusing some fans of lacking brainpower in Budapest last week — and told them to shut it down. One match? One half? About five minutes?

Tottenham are the Yid Army, meaning, to other fans, Tottenham remain The Yids — therefore, in football, the word can be used both positively and negatively — which is an unhelpful mess

Pretty much. White guys do not get to reclaim racist language on behalf of ethnic minorities, which is why, now and then, some adolescent like Emily Parr, a 19-year-old student on Big Brother 8, uses a word she heard on a rap record and fails to contextualise and is instantly banished to the world of the publicly shamed.

Meanwhile, at Tottenham, a group of mostly gentile men get to decide what is anti-semitic for the rest of the country by holding the word Yid hostage during football matches.

Tottenham are the Yid Army, meaning, to other fans, Tottenham remain The Yids, meaning football is the only area in which the word Yid, shouted at the top of one’s voice, can have a positive and negative connotation. And that’s an unhelpful mess.

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The Jewish Chronicle estimates that five per cent of the home crowd at Tottenham games are Jews, which, based on the average attendance this season, equates to 2,633 people in a gate of 52,676. So that’s potentially 50,043 people getting away with reclaiming a word that is as much theirs as the n-word belonged to Emily Parr.

And, yes, if you know your history, as the song goes, there is a reason why Tottenham Hotspur and London’s Jews have an affiliation. The club’s base in the north-east of the capital was home to a community of working-class Jews from the late 19th century. Through them, Spurs became increasingly identified as a Jewish club.

When England played Germany at White Hart Lane in 1935, a visit from the team representing Fuhrer Adolf Hitler was understandably seen as an affront to the local supporters. There were protests, the Germany players gave a Nazi salute and one fan climbed to the top of the stand and pulled down a flying swastika emblem.

So, by calling themselves Yids, Tottenham’s followers — Jews or gentiles — removed the barb of the worst that could be thrown at them.

Yet times change. Cries of Yid Army are now heard in the most benign locations. In foreign stadiums, where the home support have no knowledge of Tottenham’s history, and in sanitised surrounds where no provocation exists.

The Jewish Chronicle estimates that five per cent of the home crowd at Spurs games are Jews

Last week, after flight BA484 touched down in Barcelona, the pilot wished all Tottenham fans good luck for their match that night. Back down the plane came a lone shout: ‘Yid Army’.

Now, what exactly is being reclaimed there? What heinous insult requires addressing with that rejoinder? If Tottenham are responding to racist provocation they receive from, in particular, their London rivals — Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal — there is context, they snatch the word from the mouths of the bullies.

Yet in the galley of an Airbus A320, responding to a gentlemanly well-wisher in the cockpit? All that does is enable.

It gives perverse permission to the extremists who followed Chelsea to Budapest with their Nazi insignia flags and their race-hate chants.

And while there is, clearly, a world of difference between a chant used in a pejorative sense and one that arose as a gesture of support, is it not time to apply greater thought to where the Yid Army began and where they have ended up?

For it really isn’t the same part of town at all.

Where are Jose’s warriors? 

There was a moment at Anfield on Sunday when the ball went out of play and was retrieved by Jose Mourinho. It was an opposition throw, so he waited patiently for the taker to come over and handed him the ball, rather than chucking it. 

As Andrew Robertson turned to restart play, Mourinho ruffled the hair on the back of his head, affectionately. Don’t think he does not know what Manchester United are missing. He would kill for warrior players like Robertson; and in men such as Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Romelu Lukaku, he thought he had bought them, too.

Jose Mourinho thought he had bought warriors when the likes of Romelu Lukaku signed

Koscielny back as Captain Calamity 

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno took the lion’s share of blame for Arsenal’s defeat at Southampton, but Unai Emery cannot have been encouraged by what he saw from his returning captain, Laurent Koscielny.

This was his first Premier League appearance since April 22 and he was probably promoted prematurely due to injuries, but even so, for a defender of his experience, repelling crosses should be like riding a bike: never forgotten. Attempting to kick clear a high ball that could have been simply headed out before Southampton’s first goal was just the most glaring of several errors. 

Arsenal conceded three headed goals for the first time since losing 3-2 to Aston Villa in 1988, and it is unimaginable their next opponents did not notice their undoing, starting with Tottenham on Wednesday.

There’s more to Klopp than chaos 

The day before last season’s Champions League final in Kiev, Jurgen Klopp was asked about his opposite number, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. The implication was that neither man was a tactical manager.

Rather than be insulted, Klopp responded as he often does when he thinks the subject matter — or the person introducing it — is foolish. He laughed. ‘That would be really funny, yes, if the two coaches in the Champions League final had no clue about tactics,’ he said. ‘What would that say about the game?’ 

He went on to describe Madrid’s style of play. ‘It is chaos when it needs to be chaos,’ he added, ‘and organised when it needs to be organised.’ 

He could have been talking about Liverpool.

They are chaotic at times, in those moments when they are swarming all over teams, when Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United could not match their intensity and physicality.

Jurgen Klopp does not get enough credit for what he has achieved at Liverpool in the last year

But Klopp does not get enough credit for what he has achieved there in the last 12 months; the way he has worked without Philippe Coutinho, the transformation of the defence since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk. For all his spontaneity as a personality, he is so much more than a coach operating instinctively.

With 20 minutes to go on Sunday, he could be seen telling Xherdan Shaqiri where he wanted him to play.

‘Ten,’ he indicated, gesturing that Sadio Mane should then go wider left, against the full back.

Look at the goal Liverpool scored two minutes later. It worked exactly as Klopp thought it would. Chaos when it needs to be, organised when not.

Never mind the delays, hail Levy’s grand design 

Mauricio Pochettino is right about Daniel Levy. He must be having a thoroughly miserable time right now. Plainly, Tottenham’s fans have had enough of Wembley and Levy is held responsible for the delays and confusion around the opening of the new ground.

Yet the worst that can be said of him is that he was over-ambitious about the move date. That flaw remains. Levy isn’t a project manager, but has to perform the role of one and each time Tottenham issue a positive bulletin, the club is made hostage to fortune. Each time a deadline passes, the fans feel they have been misled.

Yet clearly Levy is doing everything in his power to get Tottenham home before the season ends. Ideally, it will be the only place to watch Champions League football in the capital this season, as promised. The pictures look fantastic. Yet those broken assurances and naive predictions must weigh heavily on him.

But while mistakes have undoubtedly been made, when this is over — and it will be over relatively soon, even if Tottenham end up at Wembley until May — Levy will have relocated his club to a fabulous new arena as near to their historic home as makes no difference and destined to be among the finest grounds in Europe.

While this is being done, Tottenham continue to be led by a coach who has kept the club consistently among the Champions League places, with a bright young team playing good football. That is Levy’s work, too. The situation is far from perfect, but Pochettino is right to say his boss is deserving of more love than rebuke.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is doing everything to get Tottenham into their new home

Fowler’s snubs have echo of Sol 

Robbie Fowler has made a pitch for the vacant manager’s job at Bristol Rovers. He says he has applied for a number of vacancies in recent years, without getting a reply.

And if Fowler was black, this would be held up as evidence of football’s institutionalised racism, as it was with Sol Campbell.

‘One of the finest footballers of his generation… got all his badges… even went to Thailand to find work… isn’t even acknowledged…’

Yet we know why Fowler has struggled to find employment as a manager. He is seen as a maverick, unreliable, lacking the seriousness of many contemporaries; the way Campbell was viewed as a little weird, with his grand claims regarding his intellect and ability.

Sometimes it isn’t about the external — it’s what’s inside that matters, or what is perceived to be.

Robbie Fowler (L) has been turned down for many managerial positions in recent years

Toon suitors are all potless millionaires

What is it about Newcastle that they attract so many members of the Potless Millionaires Club?

Potential owners, consortiums who are ever so eager to own a Premier League football team, right up until the moment when it comes to parting with the money.

Then, they always come up short. And not payday-loan short, either. A hundred million or so below Mike Ashley’s asking price — a sum that has been in the public domain for several years now.

The moment Amanda Staveley chose to conduct takeover business through the newspapers and not in private with Ashley, it was obvious she did not have the funds.

Sheik Mansour and Roman Abramovich did not require outside help to take control at Manchester City or Chelsea; the first anyone knew of the transaction, it was done. Now it would appear the Peter Kenyon takeover at Newcastle has hit a nine-digit snag: £100m being the figure Kenyon is shy of Ashley’s demand.

Nobody would enter negotiations for a house if they were a third short, minimum, so why is it any different for football clubs?

Fury’s a drug cheat and don’t forget it!

Why wasn’t Tyson Fury shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year? Quite simply, he’s a drugs cheat. That stuff isn’t easily erased or forgotten, not by those with a genuine love for sport. 

And while many aspects of his return to the pinnacle of boxing are admirable and inspiring, the positive test for nandrolone cannot just be overlooked because it does not fit the recent feelgood narrative. 

We cannot be serious about Russian drug cheating, or Kenyan drug cheating, then pretend it does not matter for one of our own. If Fury wins a heavyweight title fight, he might be a SPOTY contender next year, but it will remain a difficult call, ethically, given his past. 

Tyson Fury pictured at the 2018 Sports Personality of the Year Awards on Sunday evening

Full credit to Domingos Quina, another young player determined not to live his life on the bench. He was a junior at Chelsea and guessed early that this could be a dead end.

He rejected Arsenal for West Ham because he thought there would be more opportunities outside the elite and then, when these didn’t materialise as he had hoped, made a £1m move to Watford in the summer. 

It took a spate of injuries to get him there but given a first-team chance against Cardiff on Saturday, he grasped it with an excellent goal. Quina is another example of a young man having faith in his ability, and proactively taking charge of his career. The ones banking the cheques and little else are now being left behind.

Full credit must go to Domingos Quina, who left Chelsea and is now progressing at Watford

UEFA only pretend to care for fans 

UEFA feigned their usual concern at the problem of away fans being charged up to three times as much as home fans in the Champions League. An issue that could be fixed with a simple edict after a cursory meeting in time for the round of 16 is now subject to the inspection of a working group.

Meanwhile, if you want to see how interested UEFA really are in the needs of fans, try to book a hotel room in Madrid for Champions League final weekend for less than the price of a mews cottage in Mayfair.

  • ‘Don’t spoil them when they aren’t good enough for the club…

    ‘Regrettably I’m in that battle and I’m determined I’m going…

    ‘They’ve already sent us several offers that do not meet our…

    Jose Mourinho will face no further action over charges of…

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