If you hadn't heard of the Society of Black Lawyers two weeks ago, you'd most likely be in the majority. Fast forward a fortnight and nearly every football fan in the country will be aware of the organisation - thanks to two high profile complaints.
Heading up the organisation is a man by the name of Peter Herbert, who on Wednesday threatened to pursue legal action against Tottenham Hotspur should fans continue to use the word 'Yid' within chants. The term arises from Jewish history, when Jewish people would be called 'Yids'. With a large section of Tottenham fans of Jewish descent and cultures, the club took on the name as an inclusive action to show multi-cultural diversity.
Herbert said in yesterday's statement that, 'Even if it comes from Tottenham supporters, it remains casual racism'. That was then followed by 'If neither Tottenham FC nor the FA are willing to take a stand then SBL will report the matter to the Met Police for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.'
It is the second occasion that the group have barged their way into a major footballing story following their complaint to the Metropolitan Police towards Mark Clattenburg and alleged racist comments to Chelsea's John Obi Mikel during the tie between the Blues and Manchester United a few weeks ago. Their complaint made headlines across all the major media outlets.
Racism has been a hot topic within the game recently following a turbulent year of incidents including John Terry, Luis Suarez, Serbian football fans, Clattenburg and now the Society appear keen to raise another issue. His comments that 'I don't want to have to take my children to a football match and expect to hear anti-Semitic chants' are accurate and no parent would want that, but the context in which Spurs fans sing the term is not of an anti-Semitic nature, something that is clear to the majority of the footballing community.
David Baddiel, a Jewish, self-acclaimed comedian and Chelsea fan has long argued for the abolition of the term 'Yid' in modern day football and has joined Herbert in putting forward his side of the argument. In fairness to Baddiel, the right to have a say in the debate is understandable because of his connection to the case is a valid one, but the argument in my opinion still falls short.
As Spurs were quick to iterate in response to the threats of the Herbert & co, the chant was created to deflect rival opposition taunts, rather than create a prejudice hatred towards a race of humanity. '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,' they said as they defended the club against the accusations.
Critically Herbert's argument for the case showed plenty of flaws which have without doubt damaged any small credibility the statement may have held. 'What we are trying to do is change a culture. What we are saying to Tottenham is, "Maybe this was ok 50 years ago - but it isn't now."' Herbert claimed, but in doing so suggested such racist behaviour, in his opinion, would have been ok 50 years ago at a time when Jewish people were more discriminated against than ever. How could anti-semitic chants be acceptable at any period of time?
He also made his greatest gaffe when suggesting that hissing noises made by away supporters - a reference to gas chambers - are equally intolerable. Actually I'm sure I speak for everyone with a shred of decency when I say that the two are completely incomparable and such vitriol is in no way equal to the positivity around the word used by Spurs fans.
Spurs fan Ben Rosenthal, a member of the Jewish community, posted on Twitter an honest and persuasive argument in response to the over the top claims, in defence of his club and was not the only one to do so as outrage spread across the Internet. A recurring feeling that the Society were sticking their noses in where they weren't wanted was the overall impression.
Thei group's recent involvement in football matters has led to claims the group are simply just attempting to gain publicity.
If it is not just a case of attempting to gain publicity, then the question has to be asked why they are not emphasising the greater of concerning racist matters across the world? There are plenty of cases worse than the 'Yid' chant, a chant that has been almost universally accepted across football for nigh on fifty years without complaint.
Herbert blasted Spurs fans again today for 'not getting it' but his campaign agenda has been dealt a major blow after the Met Police advised Spurs that chants such as 'Yid Army' would not lead to prosecution as long as it continues to be used with no 'deliberate intention to cause offence'.
It's time for the Society of Black Lawyers to back down and realise they are fighting a losing battle and move on.
image: © hollidaypics