Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas has welcomed the intervention of Prime Minister David Cameron in the ongoing debate over the use of perceived anti-Semitic chants by the club’s supporters.
Spurs fans have long branded themselves the ‘Yid Army’ in reference to the club’s links to the Jewish community, but the Football Association has warned that the term is “likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer” and said its public use “could amount to a criminal offence”.
Cameron, though, has said agreed with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust when the group said the term was not used with any malice, and Villas-Boas believes the politician's words will help to create a "sensible" debate over the matter.
“The Prime Minister’s intervention is probably what Spurs fans want to hear,” Villas-Boas said. “He was straightforward with what he came out with. It was clear.
“There is a sensible discussion going on. The FA have had their statement; we as a club have shown our position over the use of the word and I have expressed my opinion also. Hopefully it doesn’t grow into something that cannot be controlled.
“Our fans sing it with pride -- it is something they defend. They defend it. This is not meant to take offence. It is being approached by the authorities with care and the comments of David Cameron gave Spurs fans some satisfaction.
“From my understanding, which is probably not with enough knowledge as it should be, Spurs do not use this word in a negative way. They use it with passion and purpose. My opinion is, whilst there is no offence meant, I see no problem with it. The problem is finding out what is seen as an offence. It is very hard for the FA to distinguish what is offensive.”
However, Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Clarke Carlisle -- who has worked actively to promote anti-racism initiatives in the game -- feels the term should not be used.
He said: "Do they have a right to appropriate that term when it would be indescribably offensive to anyone else?”
Jewish comedian David Baddiel, who supports Chelsea, has strongly objected to its use and in 2011 released a short film entitled The Y-Word to explain its history.
Carlisle added: "David Baddiel says that's how it feels as a Jewish man going to Tottenham and hearing them chant that. If it is highly offensive to him then I think Spurs have to take that on board, because he will not be the only person.
"It is not for them to appropriate a derogatory offensive term that was used to belittle a whole section of society in a terrible era."