Roman Abramovich and the death of the Yid Army: It’s a wild time to be a Jewish soccer fan

Russian billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich at a Chelsea F.C. game in 2008. (John Dobson/Wikimedia Commons)

Roman Abramovich is one of Russia’s most prominent billionaire oligarchs. As the owner of Chelsea F.C. who routinely throws money to combat antisemitism in sports, he has been accused of “sportswashing” his controversial career and close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But sanctions by the British government in light of the Russian war on Ukraine have thrown the century-old soccer club into a state of flux, its future in the Premier League uncertain.

The story is developing just a month after another Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, publicly requested its fans to stop using the “Y word”: Yid. For ages, the team and its fans have been known as the Yid Army, in a weirdly deep-seated backstory that has nothing itself to do with antisemitism. Was the Yid Army ever good for the Jews? Will Spurs fans actually stop using it?

To discuss these wild times of being a Jewish soccer fan, The CJN’s sports podcasters are joined by David Gass, a sports broadcaster for Major League Soccer and early Menschwarmers guest from our very first season.

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Menschwarmers is hosted by James Hirsh and Gabe Pulver, and produced and edited by Michael Fraiman. Our intro music is by Coby Lipovitch, and our outro music is “Organ Grinder Swing” by chēēZ π. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. Follow the Menschwarmers on Twitter @menschwarmers or TikTok @menschwarmers. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.