By Greg Stobart at White Hart Lane
While the Tottenham players put West Ham to the sword on the pitch, their victory in Sunday’s London derby was blighted by vile terrace chants from the away end that should result in immediate action from the Football Association.
The 3-1 victory for Andre Villas-Boas’ side will soon be forgotten thanks to the idiotic section of West Ham support who mocked the stabbing of a Spurs fan, made hissing noises to resemble gas chambers and sang ‘Adolf Hitler’s coming to get you’.
Just days after 25-year-old Ashley Mills was left fighting for his life after being stabbed in Rome and several other Spurs fans were attacked, hundreds of Hammers supporters sang ‘Viva Lazio’ throughout the afternoon, stooping as low as singing ‘can we stab you every week?’.
Towards the end of the match, the chants took on an increasingly anti-Semitic tone - again, something Spurs fans experienced at the Stadio Olimpico due to their well-known Jewish links - much the the horror of the 36,043 crowd at White Hart Lane.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce claimed after the match that the singing was “the least of my worries at the moment”. Well, it should be the absolute priority, and the east London club must now emphatically condemn the fools who embarrassed them here.
After all, anti-Semitic abuse from West Ham supporters towards Spurs is nothing new, and this was not a dozen idiots. The chants were easily audible from the press box adjacent to the away end while hundreds of Spurs fans took to social media to complain about the abuse.
Those Hammers fans would do well to remember that both of the club’s co-owners are Jewish, or that they have a Jewish player in their squad in on-loan Yossi Benayoun.
The events of Sunday showed, however, that these people lack the brains or moral standards to apply such logic.
When asked what he had heard, Allardyce said: “What do you want me to say? If I didn’t hear it, I can’t condemn it.”
But it is likely to be included in referee Andre Marriner’s report, in which case an FA investigation will surely follow. If they are going to take such a strong stand against Serbia, the authorities need to take the same stance at home and throw the book at the Hammers if wrongdoing is proven.
West Ham themselves need to be seen to be acting strongly. Their problem is that so many people were involved that it will be hard to identify individuals to hit with bans from attending matches.
That is no excuse, though. This was more than derby ‘banter’, more than emblematic of the shallowness of the modern football fan. It was hate-filled, inflammatory and racist. Action must follow to rid the English game of this sore.