I hate it when opposition supporters say something I don’t like about Chelsea but can’t defend because I know it’s true – and that’s the position I found myself in yesterday.
A Fulham supporter mentioned a story The Guardian carried a few days ago about Chelsea’s willingness to tackle anti-semitism being called into question after their apparent failure to deal with specific incidents. Apparently, during the Wigan game, a ‘significant minority’ of Chelsea fans were chanting ‘Yiddo’ at Yossi Benayoun and when asked about it, the club said they’d spoken to police and officials but it was ‘unlikely’ the culprits would be identified.
Doesn’t cut it really does it? I mean it’s by no means an isolated incident is it? I wish it was but we all know what we heard from the mouths of some during Avram Grant’s reign. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him at the club but I based any comments I had to make about him on footballing reasons – for me his religion had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately though, the mindless minority saw fit to spew the usual racist, anti-semitic, offensive bile. And whilst I certainly wouldn’t have cheered him on, I would never have involved myself in attacking him on such a personal level.
Not at all remorseful though, they did it all again when we faced him in the FA Cup last season, even though in October last year, Chelsea passed footage onto the police of supporters singing anti-semitic songs about Spurs ahead of the game against Stoke at the Britannia, before issuing a statement saying “Chelsea utterly condemns all forms of discrimination, including antisemitic chanting, as we are sure do the vast majority of our fans. If we are provided with evidence that season ticket-holders or members have engaged in such activity we will take the strongest possible action, including supporting criminal prosecution.”
I remember Ken Bates previously trying to defend supporters by suggesting – as we all know – that Spurs actually adopted the tag of ‘Yid Army’, saying ‘It is hard to criticise Chelsea fans for calling Tottenham supporters something that they call themselves.’ But whilst that may be a valid point because they did indeed adopt the term ‘Yids’ (apparently in a deliberate attempt to antagonise opponents after a march through the East End in 1936 where Oswald Mosley, leader of Britain’s fascist movement led the call ‘down with the Yids’), I don’t think they also invited the sound of hissing or songs about going to Auschwitz.
When I was a kid, I too used to refer to Spurs supporters as yids but once you do your history lessons and grow up a bit, you no longer have ignorance or immaturity as an excuse – and then it crosses that fine line between banter and offensiveness. So, I’m not about to defend the indefensible and I’ll openly admit it shames and embarrasses me to know that this sort of thing comes from Chelsea supporters.
Of course, I’m not naïve, and I realise that like any club we have our fair share of knobheads who have no sense of boundaries and engage their mouths rather than their brains on an all-too regular basis but the fact that these people, by association, have Chelsea labeled as racist and anti-semitic pretty much appalls me..
Despite the recent questions around their response to this, Chelsea have previously banned supporters for singing antisemitic songs at Stamford Bridge, so I would hope that with new signing Yossi Benayoun rumoured to be their latest target, the club takes exactly the same stance to weed out the undesirables.