Anti-semitism is a term that is rarely used outside of textbooks and museums, much alone connected with sports. It’s a term associated with World War II and history rather than latest headlines at the Telegraph.
Yesterday after Tottenham’s 3-1 defeat of West Ham United reports came from White Hart Lane that West Ham supporters had initiated anti-semitic chants and mockery towards the Spurs’ home crowd.
The London Derby between the clubs has been always known for it’s intensity on the pitch and in the stands, but Sunday’s incidents went beyond rivalry.
A minority of traveling West Ham supporters were seen giving Nazi salutes and singing negative songs related to another anti-Semitic crime against Tottenham fans last week in Italy.
Seven West Ham fans have been arrested so far as the FA continues investigations of Sunday’s match, and the club has begun to hand out “life bans” to those involved.
Tottenham Hotspur is a club known for their Jewish heritage and support, largely due to the historical immigrant population in the area. The hate crimes in Italy that left a Tottenham fan in critical condition and the events Sunday are a sad microcosm of the state of international football.
Along with ongoing race related crimes between players and fans, the English Premier League and Football Association are in dire stress.
When the action in the stands becomes more important than the “game” on the field, it’s easy to question football’s sporting integrity. Do these fans hate each other so much that they’ll commit offenses that should have died on May 7th 1945?
It’s easy to see how Americans view overseas soccer fans as nothing more than racist, violent hooligans as the only news of the EPL is incidents between fans.
The game is more than a game, but there comes a time when a line needs to be drawn in order to avoid Hollywood misconceptions such as Green Street Hooligans (it’s ironic that the opening scene shows West Ham hooligans yelling anti-Semitic phrases at Tottenham hooligans).
The FA shouldn’t just punish those involved, it should ban crowds for entire matches. Fans may begin realize that their words and acts will ruin the joy of the game for everyone.
Sports should not be an avenue for people to lash out, it should be a place to show passion in positive displays. A minority few are beginning to not only ruin the reputations of historic clubs but entire sport.