The Football Association has promised a thorough investigation into allegations that West Ham United fans at White Hart Lane for Sunday’s Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur used language that was derogatory and insulting towards people with learning disabilities.

The allegation has been made by Kevin Kilbane, the TV pundit and former Republic of Ireland international as well as a patron of the Down’s Syndrome Association. His 10-year-old daughter, Elsie, has Down’s syndrome.

He was not at the game but was informed of the chants by Andy Merriman, a Tottenham season-ticket holder and author, whose daughter, Sarah, also has Down’s syndrome. Merriman was ghost writer of Kilbane’s autobiography, Killa. “It was very clear and sadly it appeared to be from a large number of West Ham fans in the ground,” Kilbane told the Mirror and the Mail. “This was not isolated to a handful of people.”

Over the weekend a video surfaced apparently showing West Ham fans on a train to the same game singing antisemitic chants. The club responded to that controversy by promising that “if any individual is found to have behaved in an inappropriate way … they will face the strongest possible action, including the option of a life ban from the Boleyn Ground.”

According to Kilbane during the game they sang that “Harry Kane talks like a mong and plays like one too”, using a derogatory term for people with learning disabilities.

“I am sure they understand they are causing offence,” said Kilbane. “You cannot sweep it under the carpet and label it as ignorance. It is visible and clear and, like racist or homophobic chanting, it is intended to cause offence. I want to be able to take my kids to football matches and when Elsie gets older she will understand about her condition and I would not want her to hear that kind of chanting. If her sister Isla heard it, she would be devastated too, as my friend’s sons were.

“I spoke to him and he was extremely upset and I felt I had to report it. No family should have to put up with it at football matches.

“It is also extremely offensive towards Harry Kane, who is only a young lad, starting out in the game and who does not deserve that kind of disgusting abuse just because he is a footballer.

“This is a wider society problem, not just a problem with football, and idiots are using football as a tool to show their ignorance and discrimination.

“I have spoken to the FA and they have assured me they will investigate it thoroughly. In all my time playing and watching football I have never heard this before. Hopefully we can do something to make sure it isn’t again and this awful chant does not spread.”

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