LONDON: The use by Tottenham fans of the term ‘Yid’ – considered offensive by many in the Jewish community – has been defended by┬áPrime Minister David Cameron.

The Football Association has warned that the word’s use could provoke prosecution and a ban on attending matches but Cameron said Tottenham fans should be allowed to continue using the word.

Spurs’ fans have taken by chanting “Yid Army” at matches as a badge of honour in defiance of anti-semitic chanting by rival supporters.

Cameron, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, ┬ásaid: “There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult. Hate speech should be prosecuted – but only when it’s motivated by hate.”

The FA had stated that “the use of the term ‘Yid’ is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer and considers the term to be inappropriate in a football setting.

“Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence. The FA would encourage fans to avoid using it in any situation.”

Britain’s 260,000-strong Jewish community is Europe’s second largest and the world’s fifth biggest. Many Jews have historically settled in north London, the home of Tottenham.

Cameron’s comments were welcomed by Darren Alexander, joint chairman of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust but criticised by David Baddiel who has led opposition to use of the term by fans.