The chant went like this: “Alvaro, oh, Alvaro, oh. He came from Real Madrid, he hates the fucking Yids.”
At a September match between Chelsea and Leicester City, fans of Chelsea serenaded their new €6o million man Alvaro Morata with that mocking cry. “Yid” is often used to describe the fans of one Chelsea’s most bitter rivals, the Tottenham Hot Spurs, a team associated with the Jewish area of London in which it resides. Morata released a statement through the team almost immediately after the game, imploring his fans to refrain from using that song.
Attempts to curb the usage of the term “Yid” have been made before; in 2013, the Football Association warned all British football fans that chanting “Yid” during a match could potentially result in arrest. But after this recent incident, Chelsea, whose owner Roman Abramovich is Jewish, has decided to take it to the next level.
The club announced an awareness campaign this week meant to educate players, staff, and fans of the club about the history of anti-Semitism in English football community. The club will be working with the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Jewish Museum, the Community Security Trust, Kick It Out (an anti-racism campaign), the World Jewish Congress, the Anne Frank House, and Maccabi GB.
Whether this will result in any substantial change to the way Jewish fans, players, and staff are treated in the British football community remains to be seen, of course. But even conceptually, it’s really encouraging to see such directness in a campaign like this. Being vaguely for inclusion is easy—all fans are welcome at our games, everyone should feel at home, so on and so forth. But to name where the exclusion is, to zero in on something more specific, is to allow the campaign to actually have a little teeth to it.
Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.