Tottenham defends fans chanting an offensive term for Jews

Tottenham is standing by its fans who frequently chant a term for Jews that can be considered offensive.

The statement of support on Wednesday followed the chairman of Premier League rival Chelsea calling on Tottenham to end any ambiguity over the term by stopping its use altogether.

Fans of Tottenham, a north London club which has traditionally drawn a large fan base from the Jewish communities, call themselves the "Yid Army." It stems from a Yiddish term for Jews but now carries a "distinctly pejorative and anti-Semitic message," according to the World Jewish Congress.

Tottenham, though, sees its use as a badge of honor for fans.

"We have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any offense," Tottenham said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "A re-assessment of its use can only occur effectively within the context of a total clampdown on unacceptable anti-Semitism."

Chelsea fans have used the word against Tottenham in offensive chants. The west London team is now facing UEFA sanctions as a result.

In an interview highlighting his club's campaign against anti-Semitism, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck told the AP "the use of the Y-word by Spurs supporters, or by anybody, is wrong." That was followed by Chelsea issuing renewed warnings to fans to desist from discriminatory chants ahead of the team's match against Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Yiddish is the Germanic language historically used by Ashkenazi Jews of central and eastern Europe that incorporated Hebrew and borrowed freely from the languages of countries where Jews lived.

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