David Cameron has defended the right of Tottenham Hotspur supporters to chant the word 'Yid', in a move challenging the Football Association's (FA) concerns over the issue.
The prime minister's relaxed approach to chanting the word 'Yiddo' is set to prompt condemnation from those worried by Spurs fans' enthusiastic embracing of the word - originally a negative term for Jews invented in Germany in the late 19th century.
It also sets Cameron against the FA, which had declared the word 'Yid' to be "derogatory and offensive" in a statement last week.
"You have to think of the mens rea," the prime minister told the Jewish Chronicle, referring to the Latin phrase for 'guilty mind'.
"There's a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult.
"You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted — but only when it's motivated by hate."
Tottenham Hotspur fans sent a clear message to the FA in Saturday's match against Norwich at White Hart Lane.
Their chanting of 'Yid army' and 'we'll sing what we want' was followed by a welcome for new signing Christian Eriksen of 'Yiddo'.
The FA had warned that chanting 'Yid' was "inappropriate in a football setting" and "is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer".
It went on: "Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence, and leave those fans liable to prosecution and potentially a lengthy football banning order."
Cameron's comments will have significantly undermined that suggestion, however.
It follows a similar episode last season, when the head of the Society of Black Lawyers, Peter Herbert, threatened to report those using the phrase 'Yid Army' to the police.