Antisemitism at White Hart Lane turns spotlight on West Ham fans
Filling the void left when the Mark Clattenburg complaint was dismissed, English soccer has another controversy on its hands. This time, antisemitism’s focus after London Metropolitan police received a complaint about fan behavior following Sunday’s 3-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.
Two West Ham fans were arrested during at White Hart Lane after using Nazi-style salutes. One fan, a West Ham season pass holder, has been banned by the club.
There’s more. This, from the Guardian, highlights fans’ willingness to leverage the mid-week stabbing of a Spurs’ supporter in Rome:
This type of a behavior is nothing new to Spurs fans. Tottenham Hotspur has long enjoyed strong support from the Jewish community, support that has made the club target of this kind of perverse derision.
As Anna Kessel wrote for The Observer in 2007, the abuse is both ubiquitous and complicated by an artifact of fan desire to fight the problem:
That background it doesn’t condone the actions of idiots. All clubs have some sort of history. Every big team enjoys support from a variety of demographics. Unfortunately, that just gives malicious fans more to grasp at when they’re intent on saying something, anything to fulfill their poorly defined obligations.Guardian writer Jacob Steinberg, speaking as a Jewish West Ham supporter, provided some more context for Sunday’s events, sharing his experiences in the Hammers’ stands:
Antisemitism and racism has existed at West Ham for years. Before a play-off semi-final at Ipswich in 2004, I heard a chant of “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler’s gonna gas them again”. No one did anything. There is a chant mocking Spurs fans for having no foreskins that ends with a cry of “F------ Jew”.
People call Carlton Cole a black bastard. When Jermain Defoe missed a last-minute chance during a draw with Burnley in 2003, the person in front of me lost the plot, kicking the chair in front of him and screaming racial abuse. During a match against Everton in 2010, Cole missed a late sitter, prompting one fan to bellow that he was a “f------ n-----". He’s still there every week.
This behavior isn’t exclusive to West Ham fans. Whenever people put themselves in situations where their passions can be exposed, we see some of passions are horrible.
Today, the story again turns to soccer, and again, it’s touched on England. The issue far transcends sport, so it’s likely something as inconsequential as the English Premier League can do anything to solve the problem. All the league can do is get as far away from it as possible, erect a bubble, and hope in vain that it can pretend the issue doesn’t effect the sport.
Taking away season passes can’t hurt.