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Chelsea fans must stop anti-Semitic chants – or risk points deduction

Chelsea fans must stop anti-Semitic chants – or risk points deduction

11/09/2017 at 12:49Updated 11/09/2017 at 16:05

Chelsea fans haven't impressed Alvaro Morata with their singing. Dan Levene on the racist chant that could result in major consequences for all concerned.

I don't remember a Chelsea game, in 34 years of following the club, where I didn't hear the word.

But I also don't recall a moment in the last five years when its use was so widespread as on Saturday.

The obsession among some at Chelsea with the word 'Y*d', a derogatory term meaning 'Jew', can appear as curious to some, as it does offensive to others.

It has been possible to ignore it in recent years, as its use has dwindled. But with perhaps three quarters of the Blues' end at Leicester singing it on Saturday, it became headline news once more.

Morata 'came from Real Madrid' went one line, which was then rhymed with 'he f***ing hates the Y*ds'. (He doesn't, as he was at pains to point out post match).

Alvaro Morata of Chelsea celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Marcos Alonso of Chelsea

Alvaro Morata of Chelsea celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Marcos Alonso of ChelseaGetty Images

That a large portion of Chelsea's support wears their hatred of rivals Tottenham as a badge of honour is a given.

That any feel the need to use anti-Semitic language to express that is an aberration, and one which has no place in the game today.

The well rehearsed, and totally flawed argument, that 'they (Tottenham) call themselves that' doesn't bear up to any degree of scrutiny.

Some Tottenham fans call themselves 'The Y*d Army' as part of a purported reclaiming of the word.

Of course, Spurs are not the only club with a significant number of Jewish supporters. So have Manchester United, Arsenal... and, of course, Chelsea.

But sidestepping that matter, there is a clear difference in the way fans of the two clubs use the word.

Tottenham, Chelsea fans

Tottenham, Chelsea fansGetty Images

A positive statement of identity is quite different from thousands of people effectively bawling 'he f***ing hates the Jews'.

The fact this explanation meets a brick wall of denial with the worst offenders points to a far more likely scenario: that those most vocal about these chants know exactly what they are doing, and are using Tottenham to try deflect culpability for knowingly racist chanting.

Knowing innuendo as a way of sneaking out hate speech.

Except it doesn't work here.

The club and the player have both called for this 'appalling' language to end.

Morata, who was said to be devastated when the significance of the words was explained to him post-match at the King Power, will surely never respond to that chant again.

Anyone who thinks they are lauding the club's leading scorer by singing it will find that he's not playing for them.

And this condemnation is, of course, only the first step in what will be a well mapped escalation should it continue.

Alvaro Morata waves to Chelsea fans

Alvaro Morata waves to Chelsea fansGetty Images

The club is clear that the use of these words breaks their rules – a matter for which they will usually issue a ban of between three years, and life.

It is also evident that the public singing of the song is contrary to Section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986, applying to 'acts likely to stir up racial hatred' (Crown Prosecution Service guidance is clear that Jewish people may be considered a race for the purposes of the Act).

That is an offence which potentially carries a custodial sentence.

While it is impossible to arrest, detain and prosecute such hundreds (or even thousands) who sung it on Saturday, it is relatively easy to indiscriminately pull out two or three perpetrators a week, and deal with them as example cases.

And 'that's not fair – everyone else got away with it' is not a defence that will stand up in court.

It seems highly likely the FA will act early on this: and a fine for the club, and warning as to future conduct, is surely in the pipeline (and, remember, this is far from a first offence).

But, as the sport's governing body, they have made it clear they will dock points in the worst and most persistent cases of racist behaviour.

Which raises the prospect of the very people who claim support for their club not only alienating its record signing, but also harming its title hopes.

A mixture of peer pressure and good sense has worked well in this area in the past: and it has to be hoped we hear no more of this.

But if this is not nipped in the bud, there will be a painful and arduous relationship ahead for the player, the club, and a sizeable portion of its supporters.

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