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Spurs jump to fans' defence
Published : 07 Nov 2012 13:02:00
Tottenham have defended their fans after the Society of Black Lawyers threatened to make a complaint to police.
The group behind the push for a black players' union have put forward a 10-point plan they think will help combat racism in football. The group want to give referees the power to call off games if there is racial abuse from the terraces and they want any player who is guilty of racism to be sacked. The organisation have also claimed they will report any fans heard singing anti-Semitic songs at the home of Tottenham to the police. Although widely recognised as an insult, some Spurs fans proudly call themselves 'Yids' or 'Yiddos' and chant 'Yid army' at games as an act of defiance to those who discriminate against the club's large Jewish following. Peter Herbert, who chairs the Society of Black Lawyers says this is not acceptable. He said:
"It does not make a difference if it is Tottenham fans doing the chants or away fans - if they continue to do it we will report it to the police.
"There has to be zero tolerance and if that catches out Spurs then so be it." Asked about Jewish fans themselves singing the chant, he said:
"That's not acceptable either." He added:
"If neither Tottenham FC nor the FA are willing to take a stand then SBL will report the matter to the Metropolitan Police Service for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.
"The report will be made if this behaviour does not cease by 20 November. We will have monitors in attendance to observe what occurs."
Spurs responded to Herbert's claims by defending their supporters and pointing out that their fans have in the past been subjected to taunts about the Holocaust.
"Our position on this topic is very clear," a Tottenham statement read.
"The club does not tolerate any form of racist or abusive chanting. Our guiding principle in respect of the 'Y-word' is based on the point of law itself - the distinguishing factor is the intent with which it is used i.e. if it is used with the deliberate intention to cause offence.
"This has been the basis of prosecutions of fans of other teams to date.
"Our fans adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any offence, they use it a chant amongst themselves.
"The club believes that real anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers is the real evil and the real offence. We believe this is the area that requires a determined and concerted effort from all parties and where we seek greater support to eradicate."
Racism has been a burning issue within the game over the last few weeks. Chelsea captain John Terry was banned for four matches for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand - although he was cleared of criminal charges - and two weeks ago the Blues became embroiled in another race row when they accused referee Mark Clattenburg of using "inappropriate language" towards their midfielder John Obi Mikel. The language Clattenburg is alleged to have used is understood to have been interpreted as being racist. The referee, who denies the claim, should be suspended while the FA and the police are conducting an investigation in to the matter, the SBL say. A statement from the organisation read:
"The SBL expresses serious concern that the FA has not suspended (Clattenburg) in light of the allegations of racial abuse he faces.
"Suspension is commonly used in employment situations where allegations of misconduct are made where a person's integrity and responsibility is open to question.
"This is partly to preserve the position of the person under investigation and would be in the interests of a referee in these circumstances to ensure he is not subject to false allegations in what is clearly a highly charged environment.
"Suspension does not signal any guilt at all."
Clattenburg did not referee a game last weekend and will not do so again this week so he can concentrate on helping the FA and the police with their enquiries.