The FA gently asks people to stop saying 'Yid', Tottenham responds

Robert Cianflone

We can only hope this ends without serious incident.

There's been a bit of contention in English football about the word 'Yid', which was once a fairly common offensive term for Jewish people that was used in a derogatory fashion. Tottenham Hotspur supporters have attempted to reclaim the term and many fans who are not Jewish refer to themselves as Yids, with most no longer seeing it as an offensive term.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the worst and most vocal fans of rival clubs -- an admittedly small group of people that is not a reflection of all Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, etc. supporters -- from attempting to use the term in an offensive way. Some are old-school right-wing fans who legitimately hate Jewish people, while others are simply trolls who enjoy getting a rise out of people by being as offensive as possible.

Since the term has been both used as a racial slur and a term of endearment, often by supporters singing at the same time, The FA doesn't exactly know how to handle its use. On Monday, they released a long statement about the use of the term. I encourage you to read the whole thing. What I felt to be the most important parts are below.

Although the term derives from the Yiddish word for a Jew, its use in the English language has been, both historically and in contemporary use, derogatory and offensive. It is noted that many minority communities have sought to reclaim historic terms of abuse such as this as a means of empowerment.  The process of empowerment through reclaiming language is complex and can often divide opinion within the same community...

By using the term in this manner, fans may be clouding the issue by making it harder to differentiate its use by these fans and by those who use the term in an intentionally offensive manner. Further, 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...

The FA considers that for the betterment of the game, rules on acceptable behaviour and language need to be simple, understandable and applicable to all people at all levels of the game. As such, The FA considers that the use of the term ‘Yid' is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer and considers the term to be inappropriate in a football setting. The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation.

AP journalist Rob Harris tweeted out the reply he received in a release from Tottenham Hotspur. That is below in its entirety.

"We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this issue. Our fans historically 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 with any deliberate intent to cause offence.

Last season saw a number of incidents where fans were targeted by allegedly far-right activists on the Continent and subjected to anti-Semitic abuse by opposition fans.

Subsequently, the debate on this issue has two key considerations. Firstly, whether or not its use now plays a role in deflecting or attracting unjustified abuse, abuse that is inexcusable on any grounds; and secondly, whether it is liable to cause offence to others even if unintentionally. Our fans have themselves engaged in this debate following the events of last season.

We recognise that this is a complex debate and that, in the interests of encouraging a positive and safe environment for all supporters, consideration should be given to the appropriateness and suitability of its continued use.

We are already in the process of engaging with our fans and shall be consulting more widely in due course."

Basically, they're not entirely sure what to do about this but would like to find a solution that everyone is happy with. They're probably going to have an extremely difficult time coming up with one.

I don't exactly feel comfortable adding commentary on this issue beyond what I've already said because I am neither Jewish, nor a match-going supporter. I encourage you to read The Sleeper's Sleep's post on the term 'Yid' and Brian Mechanick's tale of experiencing racist abuse while disguised as a West Ham supporter. If you feel that you are more qualified to speak on this topic than I am, I welcome you to write a fanpost.

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