West Ham United‘s season goes from bad to worse after it was revealed that the police are set to make investigations into the club. Before you start, it won’t be for criminal defending, but something rather more serious.
From shambles to shameful, the Hammers season hit a new low on Sunday when large groups of supporters were filmed chanting racist and anti-semitic slogans at half-time of the club’s 4-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. The Met confirmed that their football unit is investigating a complaint made by the Community Security Trust, an organisation that protects Britain’s Jewish community from anti-semitism. Among the chants heard was one stating: "I’d rather be a Paki than a Jew".
The Guardian report that clips of the chants had been posted on the YouTube website by a member going by the username of "cockneymatt88". The trust noted that the number in the username might have been a neo-Nazi reference, the 88 being the eighth letter of the alphabet twice over, standing for "Heil Hitler".
Though the username took down the clips at about 5pm yesterday the Football Association had already forwarded the video to police.
The FA will request that West Ham provide all available CCTV footage to investigators, and will push for prosecutions and for football banning orders to be imposed on guilty parties.
Apart from complaints from the Community Security Trust, there had been protestations from Tottenham fans to their club, who in turn lodged a formal protest with West Ham. "We have contacted West Ham and they are conducting an investigation," said Tottenham, "we are awaiting the outcome of that." Naturally, West Ham distanced themselves from the actions of a section of their supporters while pointing to their own anti-racist credentials. "West Ham is a leading [anti-racist] campaigner and will not tolerate racist behaviour of any kind," said the club. "We will investigate this matter fully, attempt to identify the perpetrators and take the appropriate action."
What will be called into question is the lack of action by the stewards at the ground. The FA’s head of stadia, Chris Whalley, will address this issue by asking the club to explain how this has happened and what is in place to prevent things like this happening. The stewards will have received training on how do deal with situations like this, but it seems unlikely that they would have been able to control a big number of fans inappropriately chanting. Were they scared to intervene? You can’t blame them if they were, which will leave the blame squared at the club. [Mof Gimmers]