17 Oct 2013 | Football

“Allow me to beat myself up -it’ll save you the trouble”. 8th October 2013

It seems that the ongoing arguments about whether Spurs fans can/should call themselves the ‘Y ‘word will continue unresolved for the time being.

My intention here is to keep as objective as possible and add some new thoughts.

For a well written and brief outline, I have taken this from the Daily Telegraph

‘The arrest occurred at half-time of the 3-0 defeat against West Ham United at White Hart Lane and had followed pre-match warnings that supporters could face criminal action for continuing to use the word.


Hundreds of Tottenham Hotspur fans had defied those warnings, however, and loudly chanted “Yiddos”, “Jermain Defoe, he’s a Yiddo” and “We’ll sing what we want” throughout the match. This prompted chants back of “racists” from West Ham supporters, who themselves had been warned that they would face action for using the word ‘Yid’. Chief superintendent Mick Johnson, the match commander, had said before the fixture that “racism and offensive language have no place in football”.


Tottenham have a strong Jewish following and the club’s fans have been on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse from opposition supporters for many years, including during the corresponding fixture against West Ham last year.


In an act of defiance, many Spurs fans started using the word “Yid” themselves, and chants of “Yids”, “Yid Army” and “Yiddos” have been regularly sung at matches for years without the threat of arrest.


A Met spokesman said that officers had been speaking about the issue with fans on their way into the stadium on Sunday and later confirmed that there had been an arrest. The supporter, who was in the stadium’s East Stand, was held on suspicion of committing a section-five public order offence. Police are continuing to review footage of the match and it remains possible that further arrests will be made.

Although West Ham supporters were not obviously heard using the word ‘Yid’, some did briefly sing: “We won’t say his name, he’s coming for you.” This was followed by: “Same old West Ham, taking the —-.” At the same fixture last year, some West Ham fans had sung “Hitler’s coming for you”.


David Cameron entered the debate last month when he said that Spurs fans who use the word ‘Yid’ should not face prosecution. The Prime Minister told The Jewish Chronicle: “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.”

In his pre-match warning, Chief Supt Johnson had said: “This topic has been debated at length but our position is clear: racism and offensive language have no place in football or indeed in society.

“Those supporters who engage in such behaviour should be under no illusion that they may be committing an offence and may be liable to a warning or be arrested.”

West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan had both appealed to their supporters before the match on Sunday not to make offensive chants. Gold is Jewish and he had outlined his own personal experiences of the Second World War and the hurt that can still be caused by anti-Semitic remarks.’



Over the last fortnight I have been reading various reports on the subject and each time I have contemplated this issue my memory was teased by a concept that didn’t fully disclose itself until today. It’s what Sigmund Freud called (English translation notwithstanding) the Death Drive. The idea is that the human psyche contains an impulse and subconscious self-destructing instinct that longs for death.

Freud proposed the concept after seeing the terrible mass deaths of the 1st World War. He discussed the (male) human need to get involved in his own and/or his group’s act of auto-destruction.  Freud described a ‘death drive’ as being so powerful that it can frequently supersede his (more famous) Pleasure Principle (the one that includes the pursuit of pleasure, harmony and progress).

This connects to another Freudian concept, that of self-hatred (or self loathing.) It brings to mind a scene in a film (either Chaplin or Woody Allen – please tell me who) where the protagonist placates the bully by offering to beat himself up – to save the bully the trouble.

My thought is that some of these supporters (and it’s by no means all of them) are dealing with years of constant insult by reacting in a gallows humour style. The fact that it is now annoying both the authorities and Jewish supporters of other teams (West Ham included) is only a ‘good’ thing as it adds some kind of power to the behaviour. It’s a bit like a six year old boy turning to whack his four year old sister on the head after he’s been smacked for swearing or bolting his food. ‘Your fault’ he opines, ‘You knew I’d get into trouble’.

Having vented this psycho theory, some of my less objective Arsenal supporting acquaintances have suggested that the Spurs fans are beating themselves up because it’s the only way to endure years of on-the-pitch frustration. However, that really is not my point.

My insistence is that ALL fans of ALL teams feel frustrated most of the time; it’s just that on this occasion a section of Tottenham supporters have been seeking attention and are lapping it up. The column inches on the front page are worth something it even if it means stimulating racism and value-laden / contaminated language that perpetuates the Pogrom.