Inside Lane: For Pete’s sake Mr Herbert, we’re not racist!
Tottenham blogger Ben Bloom responds to the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers’ ongoing battle with Spurs fans.
So it looks as though many of us may shortly receive a visit from the police. The issue of racism in football is rearing its head with alarming frequency and we, as Spurs fans, have been dragged right into the heart of it.
In his role as chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, Peter Herbert’s job is to ensure equality in the legal profession. What his position doesn’t require him to do is to promote his own name by accusing tens of thousands of Spurs fans of “casual racism”.
But Mr Herbert has a problem with the use of the term ‘Yid’ in chants at White Hart Lane.Having taken it upon himself to report referee Mark Clattenburg to the police for racially abusing Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel (presumably Mr Herbert somehow managed to hear the slur despite not being present at the game), the barrister set a deadline of November 20 for Spurs fans to stop their use of ‘Yid’ in chants – otherwise the police will get involved.
The term ‘Yid’ is clearly a contentious one with strong historical connotations. Indeed Jewish football fan David Baddiel launched a campaign to stop Spurs from referring to themselves as the ‘Yid Army’.
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But I was chuffed to see the official view of our club. Spurs issued a statement saying their guiding principle on the word is “the intent with which it is used”. They added that fans have “adopted the term to...deflect anti-Semitic abuse” such as opposing supporters hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers.
Context is key and there is no racist intent in ‘Yid Army’ chants. The word ‘Yid’ to describe a Spurs fan or player is a term of unity and identity. When supporters chant that Jermain Defoe is a ‘Yiddo’, the striker knows he has truly endeared himself to the fans.
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Of course any use of the term in a racist context is deplorable and I praise the club’s decision to run a text message service for fans to report racist incidents. Racism is all too rife at football and supporters’ abuse of players is frankly disgusting. But is calling Defoe a ‘Yiddo’ racist? No.
The self-publicist Mr Herbert’s deadline has passed and unfortunately he has ensured his name continues to be in the press by confirming his intention to make an official complaint to the police.
Mr Herbert, we are a passionate bunch but we are not racist.Please stick to promoting equality among lawyers, and stay out of football.
Follow me on Twitter @benbloom2