Free speech at the football

yid army

Freedom of speech has been under attack for some time in the UK, but rarely have the authorities attempted to ensnare 36 thousand people at once. That’s just what the Football Association are trying to do by threatening Tottenham Hotspur fans with criminal action if they sing the word ‘Yid’.

Spurs’ support is largely Jewish and for decades has been the target of shameful anti-semitism. Only last season visiting West Ham fans made hissing sounds mimicking the gassing of Jews during the Holocaust and Spurs supporters were the subject of physical attacks in Rome and Lyon.

In response to this treatment down the years, Spurs fans began to refer to themselves as the ‘Yid Army’ with an accompanying rousing chant.

Despite the song’s roots as a weapon against bigotry, because it contains the word ‘Yid’, the FA believes some may find it offensive saying, “Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence, and leave those fans liable to prosecution and potentially a lengthy Football Banning Order.”

This is not simply a private business requiring customers to behave in a certain way whilst on its premises – this is a publicly funded body invoking repressive legislation to stop people from expressing themselves.

A packed White Hart Lane singing ‘Yid Army’ at full voice is an iconic moment in British sport. It speaks of a group of people proud of their heritage, in defiance of the disgusting treatment that has been dished out to them. Rules and regulations don’t defeat racism, people do. There are few better examples than Tottenham Hotspur’s famous ‘Yid Army’ chant.

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