Chelsea boss Sarri calls for 'positive support' from fans for Spurs clash after racism scandals
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has called on his club's fans to back his side from the stands in a positive manner when they face cross-town rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night.
Sarri's Chelsea travel to Tottenham's adopted home of Wembley Stadium for an EFL Cup semi-final clash between two clubs who traditionally see passions run high among supporters.Also on rt.com Chelsea fans in fresh racism storm over ‘Nazi death skull’ flag
And, with the Blues finding themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons this season following incidents of anti-Semitic language and unsavory chants, Stamford Bridge supremo Sarri has asked his fans to keep their chants focused on positive messages for his team, rather than negativity towards their opponents.
"I think we need the support of our fans of course," said Sarri.
"But we would like to have their support for us, not against the opponents."
Those sentiments were echoed by Sarri's opposite number, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.
"I think the fans need to support their teams and to try to help them to win. They need to support the players, nothing else," he said.
"That is the most important thing for me. They need to create a good atmosphere and not to think about the emotion of hating each other."
As a result of recent events involving their fans, Chelsea have adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards discriminatory chants from supporters, and that stance was affirmed during a special security and stewarding meeting between representatives of both clubs ahead of the game.
Anti-Semitic chants at Chelsea were criticized by a mother and son on the Chelsea Supporters' Trust website, with son Jack making the point that the idea of Chelsea fans using anti-Semitic language is "a bit stupid and short-sighted... especially as our owner, Roman Abramovich, is Jewish.
"It is ridiculous that it is that aspect, with Tottenham or whoever, that someone would pick on."
One area of controversy surrounds a terrace nickname for Tottenham fans: "Yids."
The phrase has anti-Semitic connotations and is criticized when used by opposing fans. But some Spurs fans also use the term for their own fanbase, which only serves to confuse the matter.
The World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews recently urged Spurs to take a stand against its use.
But the club explained how the word is also used in a non-offensive manner to deflect, rather than deliver, abuse.
"The Y-word was originally adopted in order to deflect such abuse," a statement explained.
"We have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any deliberate intent to cause offense.
"A re-assessment of its use can only occur effectively within the context of a total clampdown on unacceptable antisemitism."
The mother from the Chelsea Supporters' Trust article, Karen, said the term isn't one that sits comfortably with her.
"I don't like what Tottenham call themselves. I find it uncomfortable, and it certainly isn't helpful," she said.
"Whatever Tottenham call themselves, it doesn't ever excuse people shouting about hatred for Jews.
"Should anyone not understand: the word is a derogatory word about Jewish people. Whoever you might be directing it at: if Jewish people are present, then it is us who are hurt by it."
And Chelsea Supporters' Trust chairman David Chidgey told the Press Association that the group are "wholeheartedly supportive" of Chelsea's zero-tolerance approach towards discriminatory chants.
"There's a strong feeling that we need to get our own house in order," he said.
"Our goal is not to tell people how to behave. But we go to support the team. That's why we all go."