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Football crowd

Emma Poulton’s recent publication poses the pertinent and poignant question, ‘What have 6 million dead people got to do with football?’ Her article is based on life-story interviews with Jewish supporters of Tottenham Hotspur about their experiences of antisemitism.

Tottenham’s perceived ‘Jewish’ heritage serves as a magnet for antisemitic abuse from opposition supporters. This can include Jewish slurs, the mocking of Jewish rituals, reference Hitler and the Holocaust and hissing noises to mimic the Nazi gas chambers.

Emma’s interviewees said their experiences of antisemitism within English men’s football supporter culture were much worse than they experience in wider society. All interviewees believed references to Hitler and the Holocaust exceeded any threshold of acceptability and that the death of 6 million people should never be associated with football. While denigration of Jewish rituals and practices was offensive and problematic for some, Jewish stereotypes tended to be downplayed, dismissed, or tolerated by most interviewees as part of the ‘banter’ endemic in English supporter culture to lessen or disrupt the impact of the hate speech they endure. The interviewee responses indicate complex processes of anger, acceptance and rationalisation as recipients attempt to make sense of and deal with the everyday antisemitism they endure.

The implications of this research study are not limited or restricted to antisemitism, nor football. Football’s ubiquity provides a prism to explain how victims of other forms of racism, ethno-religious discrimination, and hate-crime respond to abusers.

Emma’s recent article can be accessed here: Full article: “What have 6 million dead people got to do with football?”: How Anglo-Jewish football supporters experience and respond to antisemitism and “banter” (