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Tottenham 'astonished' by 'blatantly wrong and distasteful' Marca claim

Tottenham Hotspur say they are "astonished" by an article in Marca, Spain's best-selling daily newspaper, claiming that the club is "hated" for its "Jewish origin."

The Madrid-based sports daily apologised after printing the claim on Monday as part of its coverage of Tottenham's visit to the Spanish capital to play Real Madrid in Tuesday's Champions League group game.

The article, bylined to Marca's senior reporter Enrique Ortega, claimed that Spurs were "hated" by rival fans, adding: "Their Jewish origin has made them into a club disliked by rival fans... but in their 135 years of existence they have always had style and great players."

A Spurs statement in response read: "We are astonished that a publication such as Marca, which presents itself as an alleged source of professional journalism, has seen fit to publish such an article which is blatantly wrong and wholly distasteful."

Marca later issued a statement as an apology, which read: "The article published today in Marca about the history of Tottenham, Real Madrid's next rival, aimed to give a general brushstroke of Spurs, a club with enormous tradition in British football and across all the continent 'always praised for its good footballing taste.'

"The fame of the team, their 'permanent selection during their 135 years of quality players,' their records, ambition to outdo themselves... all these ideas were within an article which, nonetheless, has generated controversy in England for a mistranslation of the word 'odiado,' which is used in the text.

A Tottenham Hotspur banner at the Champions League game against CSKA Moscow.
A Tottenham Hotspur banner at the Champions League game against CSKA Moscow.

"This 'hate' which Tottenham suffers is very focused on radical and racist groups who hide themselves within the fan-bases of, especially, Chelsea and West Ham. Obviously, these groups do not in any way represent the fans or English society.

"I regret the confusion which has been created in this respect. The intention was not to harm the image of Tottenham, a club we respect, value and admire -- without going any further one of their players was on our cover today -- and we would never want to act as a loudspeaker for these racist minorities, of which football has too many, and who use any pretext to spread their messages of hate, which we reject completely."

Despite having no Jewish origins, Tottenham have frequently been targeted with anti-Semitic chants and traditionally have a large Jewish following. Sections of the club's supporters refers to themselves as "Yids" -- a negative way of describing a person of the Jewish faith.

In 2013, the Football Association warned supporters of all clubs that chanting that term could result in arrest as part of an attempt to stamp out discriminatory language but some Spurs fans argue that they are taking ownership of a term that was previously used as an insult.

Chelsea recently asked their supporters to stopped singing an anti-semitic song about Tottenham in tribute to summer signing Alvaro Morata, which included the word "Yids", while West Ham have also had to remind their fans to refrain from anti-Semitic language in the past.

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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