Tottenham fans charged for using the ‘Y-word’ in landmark cases
Three Tottenham Hotspur fans yesterday (21 January) became the first to be charged with a criminal offence for using the ‘Y-word’.
The supporters will go on trial accused of racially aggravated abusive behaviour, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled.
The decision comes despite David Cameron earlier standing up for Spurs fans’ right to adapt the ‘Y-word’ as a badge of honour.
The prime minister spoke up last year for Spurs supporters who affectionately call themselves the ‘Y-word’ in reference to the club’s long-standing Jewish backing.
But three fans were arrested during home games at White Hart Lane in October and November and bailed ahead of yesterday’s announcement.
The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust described themselves as ‘saddened but not surprised’ by the development.
They said: “It remains our firm belief that, when used in a footballing context by Tottenham Hotspur supporters, there is no intent or desire to offend any member of the Jewish community.
“We will continue to offer advice and support to any fan arrested by the Metropolitan Police for using the term in such circumstances.”
The CPS confirmed three men had been charged under section five of the Public Order Act.
Scotland Yard said 31-year-old Gary Whybrow, from west London, and Sam Parsons, 24, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, were arrested when Spurs played Moldovan side FC Sheriff on 7 November.
Peter Ditchman, 52, from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, is charged with committing the offence when Tottenham hosted West Ham United on 6 October , and is also accused of possessing cocaine at the game.
All three men were bailed appear before Hendon magistrates on 4 February.
The supporters’ trust said they had been advised by their lawyers not to comment.
Speaking last September, Mr Cameron said: “There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult.
“You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted – but only when it’s motivated by hate.”
Comedian and Chelsea supporter David Baddiel has been among those most vocally calling for Spurs fans to stop using the ‘Y-word’.
His own club’s fans have faced counter-allegations of taunting their Tottenham counterparts with hissing noises and Auschwitz chants.
The ‘Y-word’ controversy is not the only anti-semitism row affecting the English game at the moment.
West Bromwich Albion’s French striker Nicolas Anelka was yesterday charged by the Football Association for celebrating a goal with the so-called ‘Quenelle’ gesture.
The pose was invented by French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, and is widely-seen as anti-semitic – though Anelka insists it is simply ‘anti-establishment’.