Last Updated: 20/05/19 10:50pm
Some football fans do not realise certain chants are antisemitic and the offence they cause to the Jewish community, according to filmmaker Ivor Baddiel.
Chelsea-supporting Ivor and his brother David released a film last year about antisemitism in the game in association with football’s anti-racism campaign Kick It Out.
Speaking during a special Sky Sports News Tackling Racism programme on Monday, Baddiel said he believes many football fans fail to understand the impact that offensive chanting can have on their fellow supporters.
He said: “Part of the whole confusion with the issue – and that’s why programmes like this are so good – is, I would argue, that a lot of people don’t realise that they are being antisemitic.
“I think they think they are [often] being anti-Tottenham and therefore [they think] that is OK.
“That’s how confused it has got that people can chant ‘Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler is going to get them again’ and think they are just having a go at Spurs fans without realising.
“And that for me sums up the whole confusion. As Jews, we understand it is antisemitic but I think a lot of people don’t realise that.”
Guardian sports writer and West Ham fan Jacob Steinberg was also on the panel and warned of the pitfalls of taking a stand against antisemitic chanting on a matchday.
“It is a way of isolating another community and when you turn it into ‘Tottenham fans are Jewish’ there is a logical follow-on,” he said.
“Eventually you get to the point where actually it’s alright to say things about Jews, it’s alright to hate Jews because Jews are Tottenham fans, ‘Tottenham fans are Jews, we hate Tottenham so let’s hate the Jews as well’.
“Ultimately that leads to even worse chanting and when you challenge these people you could end up getting punched in the face inside the ground or outside the ground.”
Chelsea launched a campaign in 2018 to raise awareness of antisemitism in football.
The Say No to Antisemitism initiative has been delivered through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign and is supported by the World Jewish Congress as well as Chelsea’s Jewish owner Roman Abramovich.
Antisemitism within sections of Chelsea’s fanbase has been well-documented and the club’s chief executive Guy Laurence outlined how they are taking a strategic approach to tackling the problem.
“You could take the view of banning people who behave in this way and then somehow your responsibility has ended, but actually that’s not true,” he said.
“When fans are caught offending in this way we give them a chance to come to an education session where they are actually taught about what happened [during the Holocaust] and its full horror to make sure they understand the consequences of what they have done.
“We believe that’s a good way forward in terms of tackling this problem.”
Chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, added: “As someone who is not a Chelsea fan I have to say they should feel proud of the efforts they are making.
“They are a true model [for tackling antisemitism in football] because this isn’t ticking a box, this isn’t some short-term initiative – it has longevity and it means that people are properly invested in understanding the subject.”
Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham declined an invitation to take part in the antisemitism panel discussion on Sky Sports News.