“Being a Yid”: Jewish Identity of Tottenham Hotspur Fans—Analysis and Interpretation





Football, Fans, Jews, Antisemitism, Stadium, Jewish Identity, Yid


Tottenham Hotspur football fans are victims of regular antisemitic abuse from opposition fans. They are commonly referred to as “Yids.” Interestingly, Tottenham supporters appropriated the Jewish image and embraced it as part of their fandom identity. They have been using symbols and content associated with Jewish identity, even if their club has never been a Jewish organization, and the vast majority of them are not Jewish. The objective of this paper is to describe and explain the main characteristics of the phenomenon of what I call the “Jewish identity” of the fans. The research presented in this paper was based on sociological and anthropological qualitative methods; above all—in-depth interviews with the fans and participant observation in the stadiums during Tottenham games. The analysis and interpretation of the material collected for the study allowed me to explore the questions of “how,” “why,” and “what” happens in the stadiums (and outside the stadiums) from the perspective of the fans in the context of their “Jewish identity.” I particularly focus on the mechanism Tottenham supporters use to manage and fight stigma and investigate how different groups of fans have created different narratives around Jewish identity to make it meaningful for them.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Bogna Wilczyńska, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Bogna Wilczyńska graduated from Jagiellonian Univer­sity, Institute of Sociology. Her broad research interests inclu­de the sociology and anthropology of sport, social memory studies, Polish-Jewish relations, and antisemitism. She was the lead researcher for the grant project entitled Football Fans as “Jews” versus Football Antisemits: A Comparative Analysis and Interpretation of the Jewish Identity of Ajax Amsterdam, Tottenham London and Cracovia Krakow Supporters founded by the Natio­nal Science Centre in Poland. She currently lives in Cracow and works as a psychotherapist and climbing instructor.


Back, Les, Tim Crabbe, and John Solomos. 2001. The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multiculture in the English Game. Oxford: Berg.
Google Scholar

Barth, Fredrik. 2004. “Grupy i granice etniczne [Ethnic Groups and Borders].” Pp. 348-377 in Badania kultury. Elementy teorii antropologicznej. Kontynuacje [Culture Studies. Elements of Anthropological Theory. Continuations], edited by E. Nowicka and M. Kempny. Warsaw: PWN.
Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2000. Liquid Modernity. Oxford: Polity Press.
Google Scholar

Ben Porat, Amir. 2010. “Football Fandom: A Bounded Identification.” Soccer and Society 11(3):277-290.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14660971003619594

Brontsema, Robin. 2004. “A Queer Revolution. Reconceptualising the Debate over Linguistic Reclamation.” Colorado Research in Linguistic 17(1). Retrieved November 12, 2021 https://journals.colorado.edu/index.php/cril/article/view/255/235
Google Scholar

Burdsey, Daniel, ed. 2011. Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues. London: Routledge.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203817117

Clavane, Anthony. 2012. Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here? The Story of English Football’s Forgotten Tribe. London: Quercus.
Google Scholar

Cleland, Jamie and Ellis Cashmore. 2014. “Fans, Racism and British Football in the 21st Century: The Existence of a Colour-Blind Ideology.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40(4):638-654. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2013.777524
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2013.777524

Cloake, Martin. 2014. “‘We Are the Yids’: Should Spurs Fans Be Prosecuted for Using the Y Word?” The New Statesman. Retrieved 12 November, 2021 https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/sport/2014/03/we-are-yids-should-spurs-fans-be-prosecuted-using-y-word
Google Scholar

Cloake, Martin and Alan Fisher. 2016. A People’s History of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. How Spurs Fans Shaped the Identity of One of the World’s Most Famous Clubs. Chichester: Pitch Publishing.
Google Scholar

Foer, Franklin. 2004. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. New York: HarperCollins.
Google Scholar

Gans, Herbert. 1979. “Symbolic Ethnicity: The Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 2(1):1-20.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.1979.9993248

Gibson, Owen. 2013. “Spurs Fans Should Not Be Punished for Chanting ‘Yid’, Says David Cameron.” The Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2021 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/sep/17/david-cameron-yids-chants-spurs
Google Scholar

Giulianotti, Richard. 2002. “Supporters, Followers, Fans, and Flaneurs: A Taxonomy of Spectator Identities in Football.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 26(1):25-46.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0193723502261003

Kassimeris, Christos. 2008. European Football in Black and White: Tackling Racism in Football. Plymouth: Lexington Books.
Google Scholar

King, Colin. 2004. Offside Racism: Playing the White Man. Oxford: Berg.
Google Scholar

Konecki, Krzysztof. 2010. “W stronę socjologii jakościowej: badanie kultur, subkultur i światów społecznych [Towards Qualitative Sociology: Studying Cultures, Subcultures, and Social Worlds].” Pp. 17-37 in Kultury, subkultury i światy społeczne w badaniach jakościowych [Cultures, Subcultures, and Social Worlds in Qualitative Research], edited by J. Leoński and M. Fiternicka-Gorzko. Szczecin: Volumina.pl.
Google Scholar

Kucia, Marek and Bogna Wilczyńska. 2014. “Antysemityzm stadionowy. Analiza i interpretacja zjawiska [Football Antisemitism. Analysis and Interpretation of the Phenomenon].” Kultura i Społeczeństwo 58(4):171-200.
Google Scholar

Lawrence, Stefan and Christian Davis. 2019. “Fans for Diversity? A Critical Race Theory Analysis of BAME Supporters’ Experiences of Football Fandom.” International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 11(4):701-713. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2019.1627481
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2019.1627481

Müller, Thaddeus. 2020. “Stigma, the Moral Career of a Concept: Some Notes on Emotions, Agency, Teflon Stigma, and Marginalizing Stigma.” Symbolic Interaction 43(1):3-20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.473
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.473

Nowak, Jacek. 2011. Społeczne reguły pamiętania [Social Rules of Remembering]. Cracow: Nomos.
Google Scholar

Poulton, Emma. 2016. “Towards Understanding: Antisemitism and the Contested Uses and Meanings of ‘Yid’ in English Football.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39(11):1981-2001. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1140791
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1140791

Poulton, Emma. 2019. “Tackling Antisemitism within English Football: A Critical Analysis of Policies and Campaigns Using a Multiple Streams Approach.” International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 12(1):25-47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2019.1673789
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2019.1673789

Poulton, Emma and Olivier Durell. 2016. “Uses and Meanings of ‘Yid’ in English Football Fandom: A Case Study of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 51(6):715-734. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214554844
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214554844

Stratton, Jon. 2016. “Playing the Jew: Anti-Semitism and Football in the Twenty-First Century.” Jewish Culture and History 16(3):293-311. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/1462169X.2015.1129701
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1462169X.2015.1129701

Szacka, Barbara. 1997. “Systemic Transformation and Memory of the Past.” Polish Sociological Review 118(2):119-131.
Google Scholar

Wilczyńska, Bogna. 2013. Antysemityzm stadionowy – analiza i interpretacja zjawiska [Football Antsemitism—Analysis and Interpretation of the Phenomenon]. Master dissertation, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland.
Google Scholar




How to Cite

Wilczyńska, B. (2022). “Being a Yid”: Jewish Identity of Tottenham Hotspur Fans—Analysis and Interpretation. Qualitative Sociology Review, 18(3), 86–105. https://doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.18.3.04




Funding data