West Ham United ban supporter for Nazi salute
A West Ham United season ticket holder arrested and cautioned for giving a Nazi salute at White Hart Lane was handed a lifetime banning order by the east London club yesterday (26 November).
The supporter was one of two men arrested and cautioned for racially aggravated public order offences after giving the stiff-arm salute during an acrimonious 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur marred by antisemitic and abusive chanting by West Ham fans. There were five other arrests for unrelated incidents.
As West Ham said they would pursue further life bans against other offenders, the Metropolitan Police is considering launching a criminal inquiry after receiving complaints about the widespread abuse from away supporters.
West Ham co-chairman David Gold, who is Jewish, said he had not heard the chanting but would have been “mortified” if he had.
“Like many of the people around me in the director’s box I didn’t hear or see any of the reported inappropriate behaviour. If I had then I’m sure I would have been mortified,” he said.
“We are a club that promotes tolerance and inclusion of people from all backgrounds, race and religion.
“I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and have always been made to feel welcome at West Ham since I started watching them as a young boy back in the 1950s.
“That wasn’t always the case growing up in the East End and I know first-hand how difficult dealing with prejudice can be, which is why I feel so passionately about promoting inclusion in society today.”
West Ham’s Israeli international Yossi Benayoun on Monday night spoke of his disappointment and embarrassment at hearing antisemitic abuse by some fans towards Tottenham’s supporters.
Benayoun said on Twitter: “I have a great relationship with the West Ham United supporters, from my first spell at the club and again now I am back on loan here.
“This why I was very disappointed to hear some of the songs yesterday and it was embarrassing.”
Just four days after 10 Tottenham fans were injured, one of them seriously, when they were attacked in Rome before their Europa League tie with Lazio, the visiting fans taunted the home club about their association to the Jewish community, and the injuries inflicted in Italy.
The visiting supporters were heard to chant “Viva Lazio”, “Can we stab you every week”, and, “Adolf Hitler is coming for you”.
The latter chant, audible to members of the media present and partially picked up by television microphones, was most offensive of all.
The home supporters responded by singing “Yiddo”, a contentious badge of identity for Spurs supporters that also attracted antisemitic abuse in Rome at the Lazio game.
The Football Association (The FA) said yesterday that it had formally opened an investigation into the incident, and called on both clubs to act firmly against any individuals.
The police said they would meet those who had complained about the incident and take statements before deciding whether to open a criminal investigation.
While West Ham promised to act against those responsible, including the use of life bans from Upton Park, the level of abuse from fans drew an angry reaction from Harry Redknapp, the new Queens Park Rangers manager, who labelled the fans “cowards”.
“It’s happening more and more, we all hear it,’’ said Redknapp. “I saw David Jones and I heard what they [the Leeds fans] were singing to him at Sheffield Wednesday. It’s disgusting.
“We’ve all had it plenty of it at various times. They are just cowards who get in a group. I don’t know what we can do with these people.
“When they get in a group, when they are on their own they are probably different people but when they get together it’s filth. People have to stand there and take it.
“They chant at managers, players and at each other, it’s nothing to do with football. You grew up to watch football because you love the game, but if you ask half of them what happened in the game they probably don’t know, they’re chanting at each other.”
The FA will examine CCTV and television footage of the incidents, which are the latest discrimination issue to confront the governing body in a troubling season.
The seriousness of the allegations against West Ham’s supporter will not be lost on an organisation whose chairman, David Bernstein, and England manager, Roy Hodgson, visited Auschwitz in the build up to Euro 2012. West Ham forward Andy Carroll was also a member of the England party who toured the former concentration camp.
While a full investigation will take place, it is unlikely The FA will be able to bring charges against West Ham unless they can prove negligence by the club contributed to the incident. It is more likely that individuals will be pursued for their part in events at White Hart Lane.
In a statement The FA said: “There is no place for antisemitism or any form of discrimination in football. The FA is committed to working with the clubs, leagues, fans groups, the police, CPS and community stakeholders to play our part in addressing this unacceptable behaviour.”
West Ham said that anyone found to have taken part in racist chanting would be banned for life, but claimed only “a small number” of supporters were involved.
“West Ham will take the strongest possible action against any of their supporters, including enforcing life bans from the club, that are found guilty of behaviour which is categorically not condoned by West Ham.”
Tottenham will meet with Kick It Out today to discuss the issues raised by the events.
A club spokesman said: “We are compiling a full report for the Football Association and shall be submitting this with all our evidence, including relevant CCTV footage.”
From Daily Telegraph