A Chelsea fan who posted antisemitic and racist tweets aimed at fans of rival London soccer club Tottenham — including photos of Auschwitz and a man doing a Nazi salute — was Friday jailed for eight weeks.
The sentence came a day after fans of West Ham, another London-based club, were filmed singing antisemitic songs at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man on a flight to Belgium.
Nathan Blagg, 21, who told police the tweets were “banter between mates,” pleaded guilty to seven counts of sending offensive messages.
District Judge Michael Hamilton told Blagg only immediate custody would be a suitable punishment for the “abhorrent and grossly offensive” tweets.
“Quite frankly, the content of these messages was despicable,” he said. “References to the Holocaust and other matters cannot on any view ever be categorized as banter.”
Prosecutor David Roberts said the tweets about the Tottenham side were more offensive in the context of “a history of association with the Jewish community.”
Tottenham traditionally has a large fan base among London’s Jewish community and some opposing fans regularly direct antisemitic abuse at supporters of the team.
Some Tottenham fans call themselves the “Yid Army” in a bid to appropriate the term and to deflect antisemitic abuse.
Blagg, described as a life-long Chelsea supporter, posted a picture of the train tracks to Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz on Twitter with the message: “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz,” Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.
Another post featured a fake image of former health secretary Matt Hancock holding a microphone saying the same words.
Blagg’s tweets were investigated by the security team at Chelsea, who passed them on to police, after they were spotted by a West Brom fan.
Maeve Thornton, representing Blagg, said he had left Twitter and was “deeply remorseful.”
Chelsea, which is owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire — who has acquired Israeli citizenship — has launched several campaigns to combat antisemitism among supporters.
In another instance of antisemitism by soccer fans, several West Ham fans were filmed singing an antisemitic song as an ultra-Orthodox man walked down the aisle of a flight to Belgium.
— Jewish News (@JewishNewsUK) November 5, 2021
West Ham fans were flying to Belgium to watch the team in a Europa League match against Genk.
The soccer club condemned the incident and said it would ban any fans found to have been involved.
“West Ham United is appalled by the contents of the video circulating on social media and condemns the behavior of the individuals involved. The club is liaising with the airline and relevant authorities to identify the individuals,” a club statement said.
“We continue to be unequivocal in our stance – we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination. Any individuals identified will be issued with an indefinite ban from the club. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the football club and we do not welcome any individuals who do not share those values.”