UK Prime Minister: Let Tottenham Hotspur Fans Call Themselves ‘Yids’
British Prime Minister David Cameron waded into a row involving fans of London football club Tottenham Hotspur and Britain’s ruling football body, the Football Association, with his own contention that fans should not be prosecuted for using the word ‘Yid’ in a non-threatening context.
“You have to think of the mens rea. There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as ‘Yids’ and someone calling someone a ‘Yid’ as an insult,” Cameron told the UK’s Jewish Chronicle.
“You have to be motivated by hate,” the prime minister said. “Hate speech should be prosecuted — but only when it’s motivated by hate.”
Many fans of Tottenham Hotspur, whose stadium is located in the historically Jewish neighborhood of London, refer to themselves as the “Yid Army,” even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase.
The Football Association said in a statement last week that the word “is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer” and that it “considers the term to be inappropriate in a football setting.”
“The use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offense,” the FA added.
But Tottenham fans said they would seek legal avenues to uphold what they say is their right to declare themselves “Yids”.
A statement from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, an unofficial group representing the club’s fans, said: “Whilst we fully recognize that Spurs fans’ use of the Y word and associated identity may have caused some upset to members of the Jewish community, we sincerely believe that no Spurs fan uses the term in a malicious way.”
During a match on Saturday, fans of the club defied the FA ban, chanting “We’re Tottenham Hotspur, we sing what we want” before belting “Yid Army” chants throughout the game.