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WhY Word - time to think about it

We are living in times of heightened awareness of cultural appropriation and sensitivities. It is therefore crucial to the values of our Club and our fans that we are even more mindful of the controversial nature of the Y-Word.

We have always recognised that this is a complex issue and the appropriateness of the term’s use should regularly be assessed.

Our supporters' use of the Y-word was initially taken as a positive step to deflect antisemitic abuse that they were subjected to at matches more than 40 years ago from opposition fans, who faced no sanctions for their actions.

The term continues to be used up to the present day by some of our supporters. We have always maintained that our fans have never used it with any deliberate attempt to offend.

Indeed, among the reasons some fans choose to continue to chant the term now is to show unity and support for the team, as well as each other as a defence mechanism against antisemitic abuse that still exists and also as a way to identify as a Spurs fan.

Fan Consultation

Towards the end of 2019 we commenced the first stage of our consultation with fans and received more than 23,000 responses. View the results here.

After a pause due to the pandemic, we undertook the second phase of the consultation in the form of virtual supporter focus groups. These were facilitated by an independent, experienced moderator and the groups comprised a cross section of fans in respect of both religion and age.

Key findings have shown:

  • Members of our fanbase feel uncomfortable with the Y-word’s continued use at matches
  • Supporters who were prepared to defend their position on why they use the term expressed an openness to its use being reduced if it caused offence to fellow fans
  • Supporters, especially those of a younger generation, are often unaware of the term’s meaning and its historical context when chanting it
  • That now, more than ever, is the time to re-assess and re-consider its ongoing use

A full range of supporter views from our focus groups can be read below. Please note, the identity of participants has been withheld in respect of confidentiality.

Moving Forward

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and progressive Club and are aware of the growing cultural sensitivities globally.

We have already seen several sports entities and franchises make appropriate changes to nicknames and aspects of their identities in recognition of evolving sentiment.

As a Club, we always strive to create a welcoming environment that embraces all our fans so that every one of our supporters can feel included in the matchday experience.

It is clear the use of this term does not always make this possible, regardless of context and intention, and that there is a growing desire and acknowledgment from supporters that the Y-word should be used less or stopped being used altogether.

We recognise how these members of our fanbase feel and we also believe it is time to move on from associating this term with our Club.

The adoption of the Y-word by our supporters from the late 1970's was a positive response to the lack of action taken by others around this issue. An increasing number of our fans now wish to see positive change again with the reduction of its use, something we welcome and shall look to support.

We acknowledge that any reassessment of the use of this term needs to be a collaborative effort between the Club and its fans. We shall be working to further outline the historical context of the term, to explain the offence it can cause and to embrace the times in which we now live to show why it can be considered inappropriate regardless of context.

Further Reading

Why I changed my mind on the Y-word, by Stephen Pollard

Stephen Pollard is the Editor-at-Large of The Jewish Chronicle (The JC) and a lifelong Spurs fan. This piece was published in the newspaper on Wednesday 16 February, 2022, shortly after the Club released its latest update and findings following our fan consultation. Stephen has given the Club his permission to publish the article in-full, donating his fee to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

I'm a Spurs fan and we should drop the Y-word – we don't need it, by Andre Langlois

Andre Langlois is the Editor of the Ham & High and Islington and Hackney Gazette newspapers – a lifelong fan who regularly covers our matches. This article was published in the Ham & High on Friday 11 February, 2022, and we thank Andre for giving his permission for us to use it in full.

As a Jewish Spurs fan, I saw Y-word chants as a form of solidarity. But they have to go, by Mark Solomons

Mark Solomons is a journalist, PR specialist and lifelong Spurs fan. This article was published in The Guardian on Monday 14 February, 2022, and we thank Mark for giving his permission to use it in full.