By Jared Beinart
A group of fans of Chelsea Football Club (F.C.) were filmed singing an anti-Semitic chant before the team’s The Football Association Challenge Cup semi-final match in London against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. on April 22.
The group of Chelsea supporters gathered at the Green Man Pub near Wembley Stadium, where Tottenham plays, and chanted the insensitive song meant to taunt their opponent’s Jewish fans.
Chelsea fans were recorded singing, “We’ll be running around Tottenham with our willies hanging out, singing I’ve got foreskin, haven’t you?”
Tottenham, as with many football clubs in London, has a large Jewish following, which has provoked a lot of anti-Semitic attention. Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Tottenham have adopted the nickname “Yids.” While some have embraced the nickname as a representation of the Tottenham fan base, some believe that the name draws attention from racists.
“It’s unfortunate to see things like this happen,” said sophomore biochemistry major and Premier League fan Matt Sherman. “Players and fans both should show proper respect and etiquette during games, and this is something that affects the enjoyment of the sport.”
Many supporters of the Premier League believe this kind of behavior takes away from the game and creates a larger issue outside the world of sports. One such fan is sophomore journalism major Conor Hollingsworth.
“This [incident] definitely reflects negatively on Chelsea,” Hollingsworth said, “because their fans have had a blatant history of being racist when it comes to opposition of different color or race.”
This is not the first incident where Chelsea fans have been accused of racial discrimination. Last year during the Champions League tournament, a group of Chelsea supporters were in Paris to watch their team play Paris Saint-Germain F.C. Fans of the English football club garnered controversy when they pushed 34-year-old Souleymane Sylla off a Paris metro train. This offense against French-Mauritian Sylla happened amid chants of “we’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”
Police dealt five Chelsea supporters suspended prison sentences, and the offenders eventually faced football-banning orders of up to five years. All of the men received lifetime bans from Chelsea F.C.
“I hope that the Chelsea Football Club takes this matter seriously, and does their best to encourage their fans to refrain from this behavior and show respect during games,” Sherman said.
Organizations such as Action Against Discrimination and the Board of Deputies of British Jews said they would work with local police to find those responsible for the chants.
Before the match, these organizations released a statement stating that the two have called upon Chelsea F.C. and Tottenham, as well as the FA and local police, to work together to take a stand against racist banter between the teams.
Hollingsworth believes that the Premier League should pursue the matter and issue fan punishments in order to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. From personal experience playing soccer, Hollingsworth understands what it is like to be the victim of negative banter from opposing fans.
“After coming to America,” joked Hollingsworth, a native Englishman. “I get chants directed towards me all the time based on my accent and where I am from.”