Skip to content

Antisemitism at White Hart Lane turns spotlight on West Ham fans

Nov 26, 2012, 1:42 PM EST

Tottenham Hotspur's Bale scores a goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match in London Reuters

Filling the void left when the Mark Clattenburg complaint was dismissed, English soccer has another controversy on its hands. This time, antisemitism’s focus after London Metropolitan police received a complaint about fan behavior following Sunday’s 3-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.

Two West Ham fans were arrested during at White Hart Lane after using Nazi-style salutes. One fan, a West Ham season pass holder, has been banned by the club.

There’s more. This, from the Guardian, highlights fans’ willingness to leverage the mid-week stabbing of a Spurs’ supporter in Rome:

Spurs’ 3-1 victory on Sunday was overshadowed by West Ham supporters apparently mocking the Holocaust and chanting a song about Adolf Hitler. They were also heard singing “Viva Lazio” and “Can we stab you every week?” just three days after an attack on Tottenham fans in Rome, prior to the London club’s Europa League group match against Lazio, in which one fan, Ashley Mills, was stabbed in the head and leg.

This type of a behavior is nothing new to Spurs fans. Tottenham Hotspur has long enjoyed strong support from the Jewish community, support that has made the club target of this kind of perverse derision.

As Anna Kessel wrote for The Observer in 2007, the abuse is both ubiquitous and complicated by an artifact of fan desire to fight the problem:

Abuse has been heard at Premier League grounds from Arsenal to Wigan. A complicating factor is Tottenham’s close association with the problem – whether they are playing or not, many of the chants are directed at the club or their former players. Their fans’ self-identification as ‘Yids’ – a derogatory word for a Jew – is problematic. Last week fans and representatives of the Tottenham Supporters Trust, Maccabi GB and Kick It Out debated the issue. Supporters say the term is used as a ‘badge of honour’, which aligns Jews and non-Jews in a proud allegiance to the club, but campaigners say it provokes and legitimises abuse from rival fans. As both sets of fans often interchange ‘Yid’ for ‘Jew’, or words depicting a relationship to Israel or Palestine, the demarcation lines separating football from religion, race, politics and anti-Semitism are decidedly blurred.

That background it doesn’t condone the actions of idiots. All clubs have some sort of history. Every big team enjoys support from a variety of demographics. Unfortunately, that just gives malicious fans more to grasp at when they’re intent on saying something, anything to fulfill their poorly defined obligations.

Guardian writer Jacob Steinberg, speaking as a Jewish West Ham supporter, provided some more context for Sunday’s events, sharing his experiences in the Hammers’ stands:

Antisemitism and racism has existed at West Ham for years. Before a play-off semi-final at Ipswich in 2004, I heard a chant of “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler’s gonna gas them again”. No one did anything. There is a chant mocking Spurs fans for having no foreskins that ends with a cry of “F—— Jew”.

People call Carlton Cole a black bastard. When Jermain Defoe missed a last-minute chance during a draw with Burnley in 2003, the person in front of me lost the plot, kicking the chair in front of him and screaming racial abuse. During a match against Everton in 2010, Cole missed a late sitter, prompting one fan to bellow that he was a “f—— n—–“. He’s still there every week.

This behavior isn’t exclusive to West Ham fans. Whenever people put themselves in situations where their passions can be exposed, we see some of passions are horrible.

Today, the story again turns to soccer, and again, it’s touched on England. The issue far transcends sport, so it’s likely something as inconsequential as the English Premier League can do anything to solve the problem. All the league can do is get as far away from it as possible, erect a bubble, and hope in vain that it can pretend the issue doesn’t effect the sport.

Taking away season passes can’t hurt.

Latest Posts
  1. Done Deal: Real Madrid sign Argentina U-20 goalkeeper, Juan Cuadrado finalizes Chelsea move

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:57 PM EST

    Colombia v Uruguay: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Transfer deals that have been confirmed over the past day or so.

  2. Pep Guardiola on Bayern’s stunning loss to Wolfsburg: ‘They were better at the right moments’

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    Bayern Munich head man Pep Guardiola sees where his squad went wrong in its 4-1 defeat against Bundesliga opponent VfL Wolfsburg.

  3. Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Leceister City

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:08 PM EST

    Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of a previously eye-catching match, Manchester City v. Leicester City, tomorrow morning on NBCSN.

  4. Burnley adamant that striker Danny Ings isn’t headed to Liverpool

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    danny_ings

    Danny Ings looks poised to stay at Burnley due to a certain transfer rule that would block his departure to Liverpool.

  5. US international Joe Gyau has second surgery, could be out for rest of year

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EST

    2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying - Day 3 Getty Images

    United States and Borussia Dortmund II’s Joe Gyau underwent another surgery on his torn meniscus, and he could be done for the season.

  6. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended, Gareth Bale takes center stage against Real Sociedad

    Jan 30, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates a goal with team mate Bale against Galatasaray during their Champions League soccer match in Istanbul Reuters

    Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale will replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the current world’s best player will serve a two-match ban coming from last week’s tilt vs. Cordoba.

  7. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Newcastle United

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Preview of Hull City vs. Newcastle on NBCSN this Saturday morning.

  8. Juan Agudelo’s return an excellent occurrence for New England Revolution

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Juan-Agudelo-New-England-Revolution-Getty-Images Getty Images

    Juan Agudelo is back with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, and amidst a few possible issues, there is no reason his addition cannot help guide Jay Heaps’ side to victorious ways in the East.

  9. Premier League transfer needs: What’s been done and what’s left to do by Monday?

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s take a gander at how things may’ve changed since JPW checked the needs earlier this month.

  10. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 23

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 23, here.

  11. Saturday’s Chelsea-Manchester City match expected to break viewing records

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EST

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    If my math’s right, and it probably isn’t, close to 10 percent of the world’s population will watch Manchester City visit Chelsea on Saturday.

  12. Asian Cup final preview: Can Australian hosts deny South Korea’s first title since 1960?

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:06 PM EST

    FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-KOR Getty Images

    The Socceroos have received a single goal from nine other players in a bid to become the first hosts to win the Asian Cup since Japan in 1992.

  13. Geoff Cameron predicts Super Bowl XLIX win for his New England Patriots

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Cameron talks about his love for the Pats, growing up in Boston and more in his latest dispatch from England.

  14. VIDEO: PST Extra – Costa’s suspension, and how will Frank Lampard be received at Stamford Bridge?

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright and Mike Prindiville sit down to talk Lampard vs. Chelsea in this week’s PST Extra, with a little Diego Costa suspension talk as well.

  15. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Manchester City, Arsenal, Saints to win

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:02 PM EST

    Pablo Zabaleta Pablo Zabaleta

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the winners and losers in Week 23.

  16. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    Chelsea v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    There are big ones, and there are bigger ones… and this one’s a doozy.

  17. Manchester United signs youngster from Scholes-, Giggs-owned semipro side

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:54 AM EST

    www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

    There’s quite a bit of saccharine in this perfect PR story, but it’s a cool tale nonetheless.

  18. San Francisco 49ers brass announced as investors in Sacramento Republic

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    sacbee.com sacbee.com

    “We have more 49ers season ticket holders in Sacramento than we do in San Francisco,” the 49ers CEO said

Featured video

Chelsea v Man City: Lampard the hero?