The Evening Standard reports:
Spurs fans today told how they feared for their lives after they were ambushed by around 50 Lazio supporters in Rome, leaving one Londoner critically injured.
Terrified Tottenham fans hid for cover and told how they “feared the worst” after the rival supporters stormed the pub in the early hours, throwing in CS gas and attacking the Spurs fans with rocks, iron bars and clubs.
Up to eleven Spurs fans were injured and one, 24-year-old Ashley Mills, from Brentwood, Essex, was stabbed in the jugular vein.
One fan said: “They pushed through the pub and pinned us back in to a corner.
“They picked up anything they could and started hitting everyone with it. One guy in front of me charged at them and he was hit around the head. He had a bad gash on his head and there was blood everywhere.
“The attack lasted about 10 minutes but it felt like longer.”
Here is what the Italian press is reporting.
The Gazzetto dello Sport – the pink sports paper you can get at most newsagents – has no doubts:
SPORT? NO, ANTI-SEMITISM – And the investigators by the hour are following the trail that leads to a racist motive beyond football. There are 15 people being questioned by investigators. In fact, between the two sides there had been no previous conflict, except for the minority in London who sang racist chants against Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend. Tottenham, which takes its name from a district of the capital where the Jewish community resides, has a large group of ultra fans called the “Yid army” (Jewish army), and
often supporters in the stands wave banners with the Star of David and encourage their players calling them “Jews” or “yids”.
The fans of Tottenham Hotspur were attacked because their team represents the Jewish community in London. The raid in the pub “Drunken Ship” in Campo de ‘Fiori should not to be framed as a fight with footballing motivations (Lazio against Tottenham) or nationalists (Italians against ultras hooligan English), but as a racist anti-Jewish attack.
This is important:
The team nickname is “Spurs”. But the nickname of its fans (as in Italy using “hunchbacks” for Juventus) is” Yids “or “Jews”. Tottenham’s “kop” is proud of this nickname, and so it defines itself as a “Yid Army” or “Jewish Army”, which is also the name of the most important group of Tottenham hooligans. Often supporters in the stands wave banners with the Star of David and encourage their players calling them “Jews” or “yids”.
This will explain why among the 30 Rome-based attackers were not only Lazio ultras but also AS Roma ultras, given the extent and diversity of anti-Jewish racism in the corners of Rome.
Italian sports blog Il Pallonaro:
From initial investigations carried out by the Police, it appears that the “raid” has been made for “racial” reasons, attacking the fans of Tottenham to hit the Jewish origins of the club.
L’Agenzia Giornalistica Italia reports the arrest of an AS Roma fan. They argue:
The hypothesis of this being an anti-Semitic assault makes more and more sense. None of the witnesses noted the attackers wearing any sky blue-and-white scarves or hats, of the Lazio team who will face Spurs tonight in the Europa League.
By now it should be obvious to all what is happening. Tottenham Hotspur as a football club has been subjected to the most vile of racial abuse, and have commendably chosen to counter the prejudice by grafting onto themselves, a pseudo-Jewish identity.
This is much like Ajax Amsterdam, whose Jewish identity arose in the years following the Holocaust, when two-thirds of the city’s Jews were exterminated. As Simon Kuper wrote:
Ajax was located in the east of Amsterdam, home to a relatively large Jewish community. So you could find them on the stands, among the other spectators. Ajax crowds pretty much reflected the ethnic mix in pre-war Amsterdam. There were specifically Jewish clubs in Amsterdam with only Jewish players but Ajax certainly wasn’t one of them.
I have the impression that the Jews who survived the War were happy to get together at Ajax games. The chairman at the time was Jewish, so was the masseur and a number of the shareholders. And a handful of players were half Jewish
Amsterdam was historically seen as a Jewish city, so Ajax was labelled a Jewish club and became a target for anti-Semitic insults. The Ajax fans responded by wearing the label with pride: if you want to call us Jews, that’s fine with us.
For this reason, Ajax have had to deal with chants like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas“.
The history of Spurs is similar – via Wikipedia:
The club, as with many clubs in London, has a large Jewish following and this has led to much antisemitic provocation against Tottenham supporters. Tottenham supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, united against this and adopted the nickname “Yids”, developing chants to support this. Many fans view adopting “Yid” as a badge of pride, helping defuse its power as an insult.
There has been a well-meaning, but clumsy campaign spearheaded by David Baddiel, to eradicate the word “Yids” from football, by focusing on Spurs’ fans’ defensive use of the term. But Jewish fans of Spurs back the chant 100%, as they are proud of this identity for their club.
There seems to be an element of ‘loony-Left’ thinking, to the campaign against chanting “Yids”, with well-meaning anti-racists proving slightly out of touch with innocent football fans who are bravely and humorously opposing racism.
The issue reached farcical proportions, with the input of Peter Herbert, of the Society of Black Lawyers, who is no stranger to controversy recently. Herbert will meet with the Met Police before deciding whether to press ahead with a formal complaint against Tottenham Hotspur, due to her fans chanting “Yid army”.
Rather than pressurising Spurs for reacting to racism, and making them feel bad, it would be better for anti-racists to focus on stopping antisemitic abuse from fans of other clubs, such as West Ham and Chelsea.
In this instance, Lazio and Roma fans have taken antisemitic abuse a step further, assaulting several men.
Update: The Guardian now reports:
Several local residents told Italian media that they heard screams of “Jews” during the attacks. Tottenham Hotspur, with its roots in north London, has long had a large Jewish following.
The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said an anti-Semitic motive would “heighten the gravity of the attack”, which he described as “terrible and disgusting”.
The raid was initially blamed on Lazio supporters. The club’s ultras are notorious for their far-right associations. On more than one occasion, anti-Semitic banners – some bearing references to Auschwitz – have been unfurled before matches in the north stands, the Curva Nord, which they control.
But the first reported arrest was of a rival AS Roma fan, prompting speculation the operation was the product of a temporary pact between neo-fascist supporters of more than one side. Lazio said in a statement there was no basis for linking its fans to the incident.