If, like me, you watched the Chelsea vs Spurs Premier League match yesterday you couldn’t help but notice the deep animosity of the home fans to Spurs and its supporters.
The commentators could hardly ignore it – the hostility of Chelsea’s fans to those who support Spurs is a regular feature of games between the teams at Stamford Bridge – but explaining it was a different matter, since to do so honestly would be to admit that there is something rotten at the heart of this part of the Premier League.
Conveniently the two managers, Spurs’ Conte and Chelsea’s Tuchel, were both awarded red cards at the final whistle as one celebrated the result (Conte) and the other (Tuchel) lamented it, so the behaviour of the Chelsea fans could be assumed to be an extension of that rivalry. No need then to dig deeper to explain the special, deep hatred so many Chelsea fans have for their north London neighbours.
Except there is another explanation and it can be found by typing the following words into the Google search bar: ‘Chelsea’, ‘Fans’ and ‘anti-Semitism’.
If you do, you are likely to discover stories that have opening paragraphs like this: ‘Shocking footage has emerged of Chelsea fans giving Nazi salutes, singing anti-Semitic songs and hissing to mimic the noise of a gas chamber.’
Or this: ‘A Chelsea fan who posted antisemitic and racist tweets aimed at fans of rival London soccer club Tottenham — including photos of Auschwitz and a man doing a Nazi salute — was Friday jailed for eight weeks’.
And this: ‘Shocking new footage has emerged of Chelsea fans performing Nazi salutes, singing anti-Semitic songs and mimicking the noise of a gas chamber. The explosive revelations feature in new BBC Three film Shame In The Game, which examines the devastating impact of football racism in the UK after a year which saw hate crimes at professional games soar by 66 per cent in England and Wales.’
These three examples of Chelsea fans’ anti-semitism are notable on two counts – they happened very recently and are a small sample of scores of similar incidents involving Chelsea’s fan base that can be found on the internet.
The former owner of Chelsea FC, Russian zillionaire, Roman Abramovich, who is himself Jewish, but was forced to sell the club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, owned the club for nearly two decades but only recently made any effort to tackle this bigotry.
As the US television network, NBC attempts to popularise British soccer on American cable television this aspect of the game is not something the station’s executives want to explain or even highlight to their viewers. Like nearly everyone else involved in the sport, it’s best to pretend it’s not happening.
Watch NBC’s coverage of the Chelsea vs Spurs game yesterday and you will not be able to find any explanation of the anti-semitic basis of the Chelsea fan base’s hostility to Tottenham Hotspur. Isn’t that how the holocaust itself happened? Pretend it is not happening until it is too late?