Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur have called on its supporters to “move on” from using the word “Y–” after concluding a thorough review with fans’ focus groups.
Many Tottenham fans chant the controversial word, a derogatory term for a Jewish person, at matches, arguing that it is a reaction to anti-Semitic abuse supporters of the north London club were once subjected to by opposition fans.
However, a survey of 23,000 fans in 2019 found that 94% of agreed that the use of the word could be considered racist.
Among the key findings of a further review completed in 2020 were that many fans remained uncomfortable with the word being used at matches and that younger fans were unaware of the term’s meaning and historical context.
In a statement on Thursday, Tottenham said the continued use of the term went against its work to “create a welcoming environment that embraces all our fans.”
“It is clear the use of this term does not always make this possible, regardless of context and intention, and that there is a growing desire and acknowledgment from supporters that the Y-word should be used less or stop being used altogether,” the statement read.
“We recognise how these members of our fanbase feel and we also believe it is time to move on from associating this term with our club.
“The adoption of the Y-word by our supporters from the late 1970s was a positive response to the lack of action taken by others around this issue. An increasing number of our fans now wish to see positive change again with the reduction of its use, something we welcome and shall look to support.”
Spurs said they already refrain from engaging with any social media that contains the word and do not permit it being printed on shirts in any official retail outlets.
While the club accepts that supporters have historically used the word as a means of “taking ownership” of an insult routinely used to insult its sizeable Jewish following, Jewish groups have branded it anti-Semitic, whatever the context.
In an interview in 2020 with Sky Sports, writer and comedian David Baddiel, who made a film with his brother Ivor called “The Y-Word” for the Kick it Out campaign, said: “What it will weirdly give succour to is the sense that Tottenham fans, rather than Jews, ‘own’ the race-hate word for Jews.”
Tottenham said its supporters’ use of the Y-word should never be cited as an excuse for the real evil that is anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism remains a serious issue in football and more needs to be done to combat it,” the club said.
“We believe that anti-Semitic abuse must be given the same zero tolerance that other forms of discriminatory behaviour receive. It should not be left to a minority in football to address and lead on this.”
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