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David Baddiel hits out as Oxford English Dictionary updates ‘Yid’ definition to include Spurs fans | UK News

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David Baddiel has hit out at the Oxford English Dictionary’s decision to include the term “yiddo” to describe supporters and players of Tottenham Hotspur.

Fans of the Premier League club have long used the word, often a derogatory term for Jewish people, to describe themselves and many argue they have “reclaimed” it from rival fans who commonly used it to insult them.

But while the north London club traditionally had a large Jewish following, Baddiel has dismissed the link between the two communities as “mainly mythical” and said Spurs fans “have no right of ‘reclamation'”.

Tottenham fans
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Some Spurs fans argue that they have ‘reclaimed’ the term

The comedian, who is Jewish, told Sky News: “The vast majority of fans of the club, including those who self-designate as Y-words, are not Jewish and therefore have no right of ‘reclamation’.

“What it will weirdly give succour to is the sense that Tottenham fans, rather than Jews, ‘own’ this race-hate word for Jews, a word that blackshirts painted on shops in the East End of London.”

Baddiel also criticised the definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which states: “A Jew. Also in extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”

In its entry for “Yid”, the OED has also added the further description: “British. In extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”

Baddiel, who is a Chelsea fan, said: “I would ask the OED why, considering that they clearly think their definitions are exhaustive, they haven’t included the fact that the word is used not just as a benign “self-designation” by Tottenham fans but also very often in a derogatory and racist way by non-Tottenham fans.”

In recent years, efforts have been made to try to convince Tottenham fans to cease using the term, amid claims it is continuing to fuel antisemitism within football.

Back in 2011, Baddiel joined then Tottenham captain Ledley King and the club’s former striker Gary Lineker in a campaign video aimed at eradicating the use of the term “yid” or “yiddo” from stadiums.

In 2013, the Football Association even warned fans that using the word could result in criminal charges.

Jewish groups have branded the word “antisemitic”, whatever the context it is used in.

Mr Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, told Sky News: “This is a term of abuse with malicious antisemitic overtones. If the OED wishes to include such an expression it must make it abundantly clear that this is a despicable term of abuse.”

Tottenham Hotspur fans
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One-third of Spurs fans use the word regularly at matches, a survey revealed

Spurs have also criticised the definition offered by the OED, describing it as “misleading”.

“We have never accommodated the use of the Y word on any club channels or in club stores and have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any intent to cause offence,” they said.

“We find the OED’s definition of the word misleading given it fails to distinguish context and welcome their clarification.”

However, there has been no discernible decrease in the use of the term among Tottenham fans during matches in recent seasons.

Indeed, one chant used by Tottenham supporters – frequently employing the Y-word – includes the line: “They tried to stop us and look what it did.”

Last year, Tottenham launched a consultation with fans on use of the word.

From 23,000 responses it was revealed one-third (33%) would use the Y-word “regularly” in a footballing context.

More than nine in 10 (94%) acknowledged the term could be considered a racist term against a Jewish person, with only 12% saying they would use it outside of a footballing context.

Almost half of all respondents said they would prefer to see supporters choose to chant the Y-word less or stop using it altogether.

Football Soccer - Atletico Madrid v Leicester City - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg - Vicente Calderon Stadium, Madrid, Spain - 12/4/17 TV presenter Gary Lineker before the match Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine Livepic
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Gary Lineker has campaigned to stop the word being used in football grounds

Following the findings, the club said: “There is a strong history and reason as to why the Y-word was initially adopted by Spurs fans in the 1970s and 1980s.

“However the age of those that use it most often now does not correlate with those that were victims of antisemitic abuse in the first place.

“In addition, the responses indicate that few believe the use of the Y-word is effective in deflecting antisemitic abuse.

“Sentiment around this term appears to be changing among the fanbase – there is a recognition of the offence the Y-word can cause and that a footballing context alone does not justify its continued use.”

Tottenham have promised to establish a series of focus groups for fans to exchange opinions on the term.

Tottenham's new stadium in north London
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Tottenham’s stadium in north London

A spokeswoman for the OED said: “As a historical dictionary, the OED records the usage and development of words in the English language.

“We reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used which means we include words which may be considered sensitive and derogatory. These are always labelled as such.

“The entry for ‘yiddo’ is labelled as offensive and derogatory and our reference to Tottenham Hotspur is a reflection of the evidence for the word.

“As we state at the closely related word ‘yid’, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is traditionally associated with the Jewish community in north and east London, and the term is sometimes used as a self-designation by some Tottenham fans.

“We will ensure the context for this connection is very clear in both definitions.”

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