WJC and Board of Deputies stand against antisemitsm in football: There must be no tolerance for use of slur ‘Yid’

January 6, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemn the use of the word ‘Yid’ to describe Tottenham Hotspur supporters, a club that has historically called itself the ‘Yid Army’ due to its large Jewish fan base.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, Director for Chelsea Football Club Eugene Tenenbaum, and WJC CEO Robert Singer. © Shahar Azran / World Jewish Congress

“Contrary to the protests of many fans, there is no grey area when it comes to slurs that target a particular religious, racial, or ethnic group. The word yid has for years been re-appropriated from its original Yiddish to carry a distinctly pejorative and antisemitic message, and its use by fans in the stands, either as a self-designated nickname or as a slogan against rivals must not be tolerated in any way,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer. “The innocence this word once carried, as a simple translation for Jew, has long disappeared, and we must be extremely conscious of the antisemitic connotation it now bears.”

“There has sadly been a long history of hooliganism and extremist behaviour within football, particularly in England, and we hope that the actions being taken in good faith by Chelsea’s leadership to take punitive measures against any supporters that violate this code of conduct will help establish the groundwork for more tolerance among fans of all teams. We would also ask Tottenham Hotspur FC to take a stand against the use of “Yid Army”, Yid and “Yiddos” by their fans. Such a long overdue action is important to kick anti-semitism off the pitch and create a welcoming environment for all.” Singer said. “Thorough education is the key to eliminating xenophobia and hatred, particularly among young people, and we urge other sporting teams and associations to follow in Chelsea’s lead in bringing this message to their own supporters and players.”

Chelsea FC and the World Jewish Congress last year launched Red Card for Hate a three-pronged program aimed at fighting racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and antisemitism. The initiative kicked off in April with the Pitch for Hope Competition, in which winning groups from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel were awarded $10,000 in grants to carry out their creative proposals for building bridges, rather than divides. Red Card for Hate will continue this year with a video series on social media and in football stadiums and culminate in the spring with a global summit of ministers and sporting officials from around the world.

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