A match between two London football clubs — Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United — turned ugly Sunday when West Ham fans began chanting at the Spurs, who were ahead. Tottenham is located in north London, a region with large Jewish communities.
No audio is available of the chants, but spectators quickly reported them on Twitter:
One viewer caught fans giving the Nazi salute:
Chants of "Viva Lazio" and "Can we stab you every week?" were also heard, referencing Thursday's stabbing of 25-year-old Tottenham fan Ashley Mills, who was attacked by suspected "Nazi thugs" before a game against the Italian team Lazio.
The Guardian reports that a spokesman for England's Football Association said a formal investigation by the governing body was likely.
“I prefer not to mar the performance with songs like this,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters. “You know the animosity between Tottenham and West Ham. As long as it doesn’t reach stupidity, it’s a great rivalry.”
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said he did not hear the chants and therefore could not condemn them. The club, however, released a statement acknowledging the investigation:
West Ham United are in contact with Tottenham Hotspur to assist them with their investigation into the conduct of a small number of supporters and alleged inappropriate chanting during yesterday’s match at White Hart Lane.
West Ham United will take the strongest possible action against any of their supporters, including enforcing life bans from the club, that are found guilty of behaviour which is categorically not condoned by West Ham United.
During the 46 games in the Championship last season, West Ham United had zero arrests for racism or violence, so while we are surprised to see such reports today, we will examine any available evidence of such conduct thoroughly and take the appropriate action.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews urged the FA to punish the fans responsible and "take further steps to rid our national game of these slurs."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews utterly condemns and is dismayed by reports of antisemitic chanting by a section of West Ham United fans at yesterday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Antisemitism has no place in football or society in general. For football fans to use Holocaust imagery and chants glorifying Adolf Hitler is grossly offensive to the Jewish community and is a stain upon the character of British football. This in the same week that Tottenham fans were attacked in Rome in an apparently antisemitic attack.
Events at White Hart Lane yesterday and comments on Saturday by the Scunthorpe United manager describing his team’s defending as being “as bad as the Holocaust” confirm that this phenomenon is not confined to the Continent.
Clearly there is either a lack of understanding or a lack of compassion within some sections of the British football world about these issues; a lack of understanding or compassion which needs to be addressed.