CST Blog

Antisemitic chanting by West Ham United supporters

23 February 2015

CST welcomes today's statement by Lord Ouseley, Chair of football's anti-discriminiation campaign Kick It Out, in which he condemns antisemitic chanting by some West Ham United supporters on their way to yesterday's match against Tottenham Hotspur. Lord Ouseley linked this to the wider problem of antisemitism in society and called for antisemitism to be fully integrated into football's anti-discrimination work, saying:

Antisemitism must be tackled with the same vigour as all other forms of discrimination. There is a heightened level of concern within the Jewish community about antisemitism with some feeling unable to live their everyday lives without fear of harassment, abuse and violence.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said last month that the UK ‘must redouble its efforts to wipe out antisemitism’. Antisemitism which occurs within football should not be treated differently to any other discriminatory incidents. This type of behaviour is all interlinked and it must be stopped.

Football across the board, and that includes everyone involved in the game, especially at the highest levels, need to take responsibility and start asserting themselves by condemning this behaviour and acting upon it when it occurs.

All too often there is silence or half-hearted statements made by those with power and influence when it comes to countering discrimination within the game. This must change now if we are to make a difference. We cannot go on any longer operating with a silo mentality in which everyone looks to someone else to take responsibility but never does so themselves.

This follows the emergence of a video that appears to show antisemitic chanting by West Ham fans on their way to yesterday's match. The video can be watched below (warning: offensive language) and we understand it is being investigated by British Transport Police.

Antisemitism of this kind should be treated with the same repugnance as the racist chanting and actions of those Chelsea fans who racially abused a black man in Paris last week. In 2014, CST recorded 42 antisemitic incidents of a football-related nature, a 45% increase compared to 29 incidents in 2013. These incidents included antisemitic chanting or comments by fans inside and outside professional football grounds, antisemitic abuse by players in amateur and youth football and football-related antisemitism on social media.

We applaud the progress shown by the FA in combating recent examples of antisemitic language or gestures in football. We also welcome the move towards 'strict liability', whereby clubs are fully responsible for the actions of their fans. However, this weekend's events show that there is still much work to be done.

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