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Tottenham Hotspur has had a week that many who consider themselves soccer fans would not like to remember.
Although they came out on top in a 3-1 victory over West Ham United on Sunday, Tottenham left the stadium feeling uncomfortable, after spending a good portion of the match receiving anti-Semitic chants from a small portion of West Ham supporters.
These anti-Semitic chants come days after Tottenham took a trip to Rome to face Lazio fora Europa League match, which came with a large amount of anti-Semitic abuse and one Tottenham fan being stabbed in a confrontation at a local bar in Rome shortly after the match.
West Ham fans were reportedly found chanting “Viva Lazio” throughout a portion of the match, and were also found mocking the gassing of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Football Association, along with West Ham United, plans to look into these chants and punish those found guilty, which could involve lifelong bans from the grounds.
But the questions still remain: Why is Tottenham such a common target? Why has the abuse increased now? And why do these types of chants still exist in today’s game?
Being from the North London area, Tottenham has a large Jewish fan base. And being one of the oldest clubs in England, founded in 1882, their fans have gone through many years in which anti-Semitic abuse was sadly common.
Tottenham supporters joined together to nickname themselves “Yids,” not because their rivals called them this, but because they believed that accepting the name would take the negative connotations out of it, and later help stop the unnecessary abuse. Other fans disagree with taking the nickname as their own; many believe that accepting it would lead to more and even worse abuse from rivals.
It is not just Tottenham that are receiving abuse from their rivals.
Other well known rivalries have led to harsh abuse over the years. For example, Liverpool and Manchester United are always having issues: some Liverpool fans reference the Munich Air Disaster in their chants, and some Manchester United fans can be found chanting about the Hillsborough Disaster.
The reason why such racial and anti-Semitic abuse has increased in recent weeks is not quite clear. There is always tension between fans, and with international championships like the UEFA Champions League underway, teams from different countries travel to one another, and often travel straight into the firing line of racial and anti-Semitic abuse that goes far beyond the soccer pitch.
Something that has made soccer into the beautiful game that everyone has come to know and love, is that the long histories that each club has with its fans is well known by all. Although hooliganism has decreased a considerable amount in the past couple of decades, many of the older supporters from past generations have left a somewhat disfiguring impression on modern day supporters, and on what they consider to be morally correct actions. This explains how many of these chants and songs have stood the test of time, and are still used today.
Unfortunately, much of the old ways of being a fan have found their way into modern day. Even though the racial and anti-Semitic abuse is considered wrong and immoral, it is still used and could be considered common banter. In the end, we as supporters need to look at ourselves and ask if it is necessary. Only then will supporters who choose to chant these insults realize all they’re doing is hurting their own club, and themselves.
Image Courtesy : Tottenham Hotspur