Date: 28th November 2012 at 2:21pm
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Over the past few months the spectre of racism has cast its ugly shadow across the world of football taking us back to the peripheries of those dark ages in the game where bananas on the pitch and monkey chants were almost the norm.

As the John Terry saga, finally drew to a close it was a matter of days rather than weeks before we had another incident that would seemingly make even the most ardent UKIP voting Daily Mail reader blush. Mark Clattenburg, a man entrusted with officiating at one of the biggest games of the season was accused of treating one of the players he was meant to be refereeing with the sort of disdain normally reserved for rodents or hated enemies. As if the case of Chelsea vs Clattenburg wasn’t bad enough, it was followed a mere 72 hours later, with the pictures of a fan allegedly doing a monkey gesture to England international Danny Welbeck, for no apparent reason- not that idiocy requires one.

Before, during and after these brace of possibly contemptuous occurrences Spurs fans chanted a word that to them is as much a part of their history as “bunch of bouncing Busby babes” is to us Reds. The “Y-word” -I’m sorry, but no, we’ve reached a new level of absurdity if we’re going to call it that. The term “Yid Army” has been used by Spurs fans for decades and isn’t a slur aimed at Jewish people it’s a reference to Tottenham fans nickname. Peter Herbert however feels this is cause for prosecution telling the Daily Mail- that last bastion of liberal thinking-

‘If neither Tottenham FC nor the FA are willing to take a stand then SBL will report the matter to the Metropolitan Police Service for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.

‘The report will be made if this behaviour does not cease by 20 November. We will have monitors in attendance to observe what occurs.’

Tottenham swiftly responded with a statement noting:

“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.

“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.”

End of the matter there then? Well no not for Herbert who declared Spurs “just don’t get it.” A somewhat poor response to an intricate and emotive debate. Even the MET weighed in telling Spurs fans they wouldn’t be prosecuted for chanting “Yid Army” but this did nothing to placate the determined -some would argue over-zealous Herbert who planned a meeting with police stating: ‘We are prepared to make an official complaint if we feel action is not being taken.’

So despite the police, Spurs and the fans themselves both in the ground and via various forums and social media, saying the chanting is ok, Herbert refuses to budge and is determined it seems to have his pound of flesh.

We then move on to the Clattenburg case, the allegation against the referee is arguably what propelled Herbert into the limelight when his organisation The Society of Black Lawyers reported the incident to the police, based on media reports. No evidence or witness statements, no it was simply ‘media reports’ that led to the SBL getting involved. What happened the police didn’t pursue the case  “because no victims had come forward”.

More tellingly the FA found Clattenburg had done nothing wrong and even Chelsea admitted -sort of- they were wrong to publicly announce their allegations towards the official. How does Herbert respond after playing his part in dragging an innocent man’s name through the racist mud?

Does he have any regrets? No. He blames it all on a massive conspiracy claiming: “It would appear that there is a cosy little agreement between Chelsea FC and the FA not to report these matters to the Metropolitan police but to have them dealt with solely by the FA.”

Nothing to do with there being no real evidence of anything untoward, no it’s the sniper on the grassy knoll we need to be looking for….

Herbert has recently waded into the West Ham fans vile chanting towards Spurs debate, by claiming in the Guardian when it comes to racist chanting:

“Those words are mere rhetoric unless the response of Uefa and other bodies to such systematic abuse is to halt the match, identify the perpetrators and, if it continues, to abandon the match and award the game to the opposing team. Nothing less than a serious deterrent effect will stop clubs and fans allowing the agenda to be set by a small group of racists.”

Peter Herbert is a barrister and therefore an educated man, but doesn’t this seem a tad contradictory? Stopping a game and awarding it to the opposition because of racist chanting IS “allowing the agenda to be set by a small group of racists” not the opposite. It seems Herbert is completely confused as to what point he’s even making anymore. Can you imagine if the Champions League was decided by a few  fans being racist? It would be a sad day for football.

The worst part is yet to come, Herbert notes: The link between the appalling incidents in Rome and the “Y” word chanting is obvious. The chanting of the word simply legitimises antisemitic abuse by other fans. 

As though Spurs fans have brought the attacks they suffered in Italy on themselves by chanting Yid Army- I’m only glad I’m not a Spurs fan right now, because I’d be absolutely fuming at that insinuation.

Herbert has in a matter of weeks, become one of the most famous men in football, giving his opinion via print and media almost daily. He’s also upset nearly everyone in the game, including those he’s trying to help. FA chief David Bernstein has labelled Herbert’s comments “ill-informed and unhelpful”, while PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle noted: “It is ill-advised for Mr Herbert to make accusations of collusions and cover-ups.”

“It is unwelcome.”

I’m all for tackling racism and understand there is a problem, from the top to the grass roots level. I recently interviewed a manager from a Manchester Sunday league junior side, who told me he’d reported the same club for racially abusing his players three seasons in a row and nothing had been done. This is unacceptable and more action is needed, but in the right way. When it comes to fans at grounds, why not try working with supporters clubs and even fanzines and forums, making it so anyone heard being racist is made to feel as idiotic as they are and fellow fans report them.

I’ve experienced racism all my life, I even heard it from teammates in my younger days, comments like ” I hate playing against these black teams, they stink ,oh  no offence Jay mate.” I learned the right way to combat it was through education, enlightenment and understanding not just ridiculous accusations and punitive measures. I learned it the hard way, perhaps Herbert will one day too.

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8 responses to “Peter Herbert: More Harm Than Good To The Fight Against Racism?”

  1. David Cox says:

    I am not Jewish but have Jewish ancestry.I, my Father and Grandfather, my Sons and Grandson have been, are now and always will be Spurs fans. I appreciate the support of other teams fans over this matter and do not wish to be dictated to by the SBL. He does seem to have missed the point however. Being Jewish is a religion not being from a specific country or ethnic group so how can this be termed as racist. It is religion not race. Mr Herbert clearly does not know what he is talking about.

  2. Dave Richardson says:

    Great article. Herbert reminds me of mary whitehouse – self righteous. It infuriates me that one man is trying to dictate things. Racism is awful – but actually look how far this country has come, we should be very proud of the way football is today. Some people do not understand that no matter what you do there will always be that 0.1 percent that wont change. Racism is THE hot topic at the moment and people are going all daily mail about it – jumping on the bandwagon. Where was herbert last year in the suarez case? why hasnt he been vocal all along? It s because for him, this is his time to shine, his time to be the crusader. Listen to Clark Carlisle mr Herbert. His interference is doing more harm than good, making the ordinary fan sick to the teeth with his threats. He should also listen to spurs fans and the club itself. if “yid” is being used as a derogatory word then it should be reported but to spurs fans its a blanket under which they can be united. Mr Herbert please listen to the majority and not just what YOU think. Rant over!

  3. Northern Yid says:

    Have said this countless times if this clown wants to have a go he should be aiming at the fans giving us grief then we have no need for the words used but obviously he is not bright enough. Maybe he just wants a go @ Spurs otherwise he could have a field day with Chelski.

    Have a look at his web page and in particular his mug shots – says it all massive ego trip!!


  4. Barry says:

    It was a sad day in race relations when a body of people identifying themselves by their race decided that others can not do the same. Tottenham Yids evolved so that all Spurs fans no matter what race colour or creed could come together to stand by the minority group within Spurs that were being insulted week in week out by others.Until such time as the taunting and insults has gone for good the Yid Army will always stand up to be counted against anyone attempting to single out any minority within our club and anyone using our clubs name to promote their own services. Herbert it seems is practiced in Law but struggling to understand people.

    In Rome it is reported that there was anti jewish chanting while the attacks were carried out but that is just this attack, there have been many attacks on english fans in this area. It’s very clear that the attack on fans is pure hooliganism and that the chanting is a secondary act. Trying to pretend it’s the main cause of the problem is pure oppertunism and will lead us down the wrong path if we are ever going to put and end to football violence.
    (angy Spurs fan) COYS.

  5. Ray says:

    Very good article, well presented. Mr Herbert is to all intents and purposes an intelligent man but I’m struggling to understand what he’s trying to do. The only conclusion I can come to is that he is a publicity seeker who hasnt researched well enough before engaging his mouth. All Spurs fan irrespective of race colour or creed up and down the country unite under the “Yid Army” banner as a matter of pride and have done for decades, which is common knowledge Nationally just like the Arse are known as the Goons or Woolwich Wanderers, West Ham known as the Spammers or Raving Irons amongst other things and Cheatski are just simply little Cheatski. Perhaps Herbert should report that lot from West London for their disgraceful behaviour since the Russian saved their bacon from extinction 10 or so years ago.
    Spurs will NEVER be dictated to by anyone especially Peter Herbert.

  6. mike says:

    I’m Jewish (not in the religious sense; I’m an atheist), a Spurs fan (nothing to do with me being Jewish – they were simply the best team around when we first got a telly in time for the double), I think Spurs’ fans use of the Y-word is cool, and I suspect Herbert’s real motive is self-publicity

  7. chrisaus88 says:

    Nice article. Even just the name ‘Society of Black lawyers’ is actually rascist. There was an article recently about something rascist Gweneth Paltrow allegedy said. The lady writing sounded just like this guy. I’m not a rascist but if i want to call my self a yid. I’ll do it.

  8. Pre Munich Red says:

    This debate is complicated. It is similar to black people in USA in the 60s calling themselves Niggers as a defence strategy. It is when the term is used abusively that it becomes racist.
    However, I was really disturbed by events at Old Trafford last night. I was sat in the Stretford End when the fans started singing “you’re just a big Geordie Gypsy” at Carroll. Later on they sang about Suarez being a racist. No one seemed to get the contradiction. Appalling but a massive education job is clearly needed.