Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was quick to deflect attention away from anti-Semitic chants that marred Spurs’ 3-1 win over West Ham.
Just days after a Tottenham fan was stabbed before their game against Lazio in the Europa League, the away section at White Hart Lane could be heard singing a host of offensive chants directed at the home support.
Among the string of distasteful choruses were chants of “Viva Lazio”, “can we stab you every week” and “Adolf Hitler” along with hissing sounds referencing the gassing of Jews in the Holocaust.
Given Spurs traditional links with the Jewish community, the White Hart Lane faithful were incensed by the behaviour of their visitors, but Villas-Boas refused to be drawn into the controversy, choosing to focus on his side’s good performance.
“I prefer not to mar the performance with a situation like this,” Villas-Boas said in his post-match press conference.
“You know the animosity there is between Tottenham and West Ham and as long as it doesn’t reach stupidity it is a great, great rivalry of two London clubs.
“It would be extremely unfair for me to mar the performance of the players but understanding that a couple of situations are avoidable but we can’t decipher the true meaning of what they were saying.”
“We have been chasing a good, solid 90-minute performance for a while and we got it today very deservingly.
“It was extremely important to get back to winning ways – particularly against a team who has been doing well in a London derby.”
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was also reluctant to comment on the behaviour of his team’s fans but was more than happy to express his displeasure with his side’s performance.
“I didn’t hear it. I don’t hear what the fans say or do when I’m concentrating as a manager on a game of football,” he said.
“They shouldn’t be doing things like that, (but) it is the least of my worries at the minute, isn’t it?
“What do you want me to say? If I didn’t hear it I can’t condemn it can I?
“I will wait and look at it myself and make a comment once I have listened to what they have said.
“I don’t want to be a political animal, I’m here to talk about football and not what fans are saying and singing.”
“You can accept defeat when you know your players have played their best and we haven’t done that today.”
“I don’t accept the way my players have played today and I want them to bounce back.”