Spurs fans care more about football than kicking racism out of the the game, claims Herbert
Society of Black Lawyers maintain call for 'criminal convictions after November 20'
'Small minority' of Tottenham fans to blame for 'anti-Semitic' chanting, says Herbert
'Their love of football is greater than their desire to deal with anti-Semitism', adds SBL chief
Tottenham have refused to comment on the matter
12:26 GMT, 9 November 2012
The Society of Black Lawyers hit out at Tottenham and the Football Association after repeating its threat to go to the police over what it regards as anti-Semitic chanting at White Hart Lane.
Spurs fans sent an open message of defiance to the SBL on Thursday night when they chanted 'We'll sing what we want' and 'Yid Army' throughout the club's 3-1 home win over Maribor in the Europa League.
Despite being a club with a traditionally large Jewish following, Tottenham fans often refer to themselves as 'Yids' or the 'Yid Army' in chants during the club's matches.
'We'll sing what we want': Spurs fans were in defiant mood on Thursday
Although Spurs claim otherwise, the
SBL say the phrase is anti-Semitic and they have vowed to complain to
the police under the Public Order Act if supporters continue to use the
chant beyond the November 20 deadline it has set.
The SBL had monitors at the north
London ground on Thursday night who heard the chants and this morning it
reiterated its commitment to report any such action to the police
should fans continue their actions.
'We are not going to let go on this,' SBL chair Peter Herbert said.
'After November 20 there is a potential that people will get a criminal conviction. If they want to run that risk then fine.
'We are serious. We aren't in this
for sensationalism. We think the vast majority of Tottenham fans are
sensible and do not engage in anti-Semitism.
'It's a very small minority who obviously don't care about any offence.
'Their love of football is greater than their desire to deal with anti-Semitism.'
Tottenham refused to comment on the
matter. The London club stick by the statement they released on
Wednesday which read: 'Our guiding principle in respect of the “Y-word”
is based on the point of law itself – the distinguishing factor is the
intent with which it is used ie if it is used with the deliberate
intention to cause offence. This has been the basis of prosecutions of
fans of other teams to date.
Flying the flag: Herbert has launched another attack on Tottenham supporters
'Our fans adopted the chant as a
defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect
anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any
offence, they use it as a chant amongst themselves.'
Herbert believes the club have been
misguided over the issue and claims fans can be prosecuted regardless of
whether the songs are intended to cause offence.
'Under Section Five of the Public
Order Act it doesn't matter what the intent is of the individual or the
crowd, if the words cause harassment, alarm, or distress to anyone
watching then that is sufficient,' Herbert said.
Three and easy: Defoe scored a hat-trick in Tottenham's win on Thursday
'If a crowd of men were walking down
Tottenham High Road singing the Y-word causing offence they would be
arrested. It doesn't make sense that they can make White Hart Lane a
no-go area for law.'
Herbert ridiculed Tottenham's
statement and claimed the SBL has widespread support for its campaign
from within the Jewish community.
'We have no doubt there will be complaints (to the police),' Herbert added.
'If the Met Police say they are going to look at prosecutions then there is a good chance it will stop.
'Tottenham's statement is
indefensible. I think if you went to the United States, Canada or South
Africa and you made a statement like that you would face ridicule and
'It is a very sad day for English football when clubs feel they have to defend a term of abuse.'
Herbert also accused the FA of a lack of interest in the Tottenham matter.
'This is an appalling abdication of
responsibility by the FA,' he said. 'It's a complete disgrace that they
have stayed silent on this.
'There is an inertia from the FA over racism and anti-Semitism.
'You can't go and complain about racism and anti-Semitism in Serbia and then have it happening in your own back yard.'