Tributes, then football

The first game at Anfield since the revelations of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report sees Liverpool play host to Manchester United in a game that will be preceded by tributes to the 96 victims of the disaster.

Had it been Liverpool against many other teams the reports going into the game would have been about the mosaic that will be held up across three sides of the ground and the presence of guests related to the 23 year campaign for justice, including members of the bereaved families. There’d have been talk about the 96 balloons the two captains will release and then the reports would have discussed the game itself.

The reports after the game would have been much the same. The tributes, the guests, the game.

And that’s pretty much how most of us, from both sets of supporters, would like today discussed – but certain elements of the media have their teeth into a couple of side stories.

It doesn’t help that the press are obsessed, and I mean obsessed, with pre-match handshakes. The handshakes aren’t actually easy for anyone actually at a game to see anyway – the players face the director’s box and have their backs to the vast majority of the crowd for that bit of football pantomime. That’s hardly showing respect to the supporters – and are those handshakes really heartfelt gestures of respect for the other side?

However trivial that little fake ceremony is in a normal game it’s not even worthy of a mention today – regardless of who’s involved in it. In fact maybe the cameras shouldn’t be following the players as this goes on, maybe this is a time to cut to a shot of the memorial to the 96 outside the ground.

The second side story is the possible singing of offensive chants or making of offensive gestures.

In recent weeks there were some defences put out of some chants that they weren’t about Hillsborough. One of them was a chant that started to be sung, they said, after last season’s Suarez-Evra controversy with the implication being that it’s a song about Suarez. Yet that phrase was being used by some fans of Manchester United (and some fans of other clubs) when having a go at Liverpool long before Suarez was even signed by the club. They just added a tune to it last season. And anyone who didn’t realise that it would – or could – be offensive to people who suffered as a result of a disaster surely realises now.

Anyone who engages in such chanting today – and in future – about any of the tragedies (not just football) relating to the two clubs knows that to do so is deeply offensive. It’s wrong to tar them with the brush of being supporters of either club, they’re not. They’re enemies of their own clubs and enemies of the majority of people who go to watch football. They’re the type of supporter that gets the attention of the media which in turn gives people who don’t care about the game the impression that all supporters are just like that.

Regardless of who they support there is no defence for them, they need to be condemned for it.

But they also need attention – that’s why they do it. So the less attention they get the more they’ll be ‘punished’ for what they’ve done. Internet trolls hiding behind anonymous identities or at their bravest using just their first names thrive on the reaction and those who sing such songs at the games can’t wait to see what reaction their actions get. If there’s no reaction they’ll be gutted.

Reports of today shouldn’t even mention handshakes and chanting – whether they happen or not.

Tributes, then football.

 

 

Cameron's Hillsborough statement, including apology, in full.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement in the House of Commons on the day the Hillsborough Independent Panel released its report into the various documents it has reviewed relating to the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago. In it he apologised: “On behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.”

This is the statement in full.

Today the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Reverend James Jones, is publishing the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The disaster at the Hillsborough football stadium on 15th April 1989 was one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century.

Ninety-six people died as a result of a crush in the Leppings Lane Terrace at the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

There was a public Inquiry at the time by Lord Justice Taylor which found – and I quote – that the main cause of the disaster was “a failure of police control.”

But the Inquiry didn’t have access to all the documents that have since become available it didn’t properly examine the response of the emergency services it was followed by a deeply controversial inquest and by a media version of events that sought to blame the fans.

As a result, the families have not heard the truth and have not found justice.

Read more

Cameron’s Hillsborough statement, including apology, in full.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement in the House of Commons on the day the Hillsborough Independent Panel released its report into the various documents it has reviewed relating to the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago. In it he apologised: “On behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.”

This is the statement in full.

Today the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Reverend James Jones, is publishing the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The disaster at the Hillsborough football stadium on 15th April 1989 was one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century.

Ninety-six people died as a result of a crush in the Leppings Lane Terrace at the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

There was a public Inquiry at the time by Lord Justice Taylor which found – and I quote – that the main cause of the disaster was “a failure of police control.”

But the Inquiry didn’t have access to all the documents that have since become available it didn’t properly examine the response of the emergency services it was followed by a deeply controversial inquest and by a media version of events that sought to blame the fans.

As a result, the families have not heard the truth and have not found justice.

Read more

Hillsborough. The Truth will out.

THE families of the ninety-six victims of Hillsborough will find out more today than they have in 23 years about what happened to their loved ones and how people in positions of responsibility reacted to the disaster. They know, there has already been evidence, that certain people took certain steps to cover up the truth. They know, because they’ve seen it for 23 years, that certain people have continued to make efforts to continue the cover up. What they won’t know, until this morning, is just how much of the truth the Hillsborough Independent Panel have managed to uncover.

JusticeAnyone who has read stories or seen documentaries about the campaigns for justice and the battles for truth – excluding idiots who let partisan football rivalries, or partisan regional rivalries, or partisan class rivalries, or their own gullibility get in the way of just looking at the facts in front of them – knows that there are big problems in the way the aftermath of the disaster has been handled in those 23 years. To put it mildly.

Not everyone who believes the stories put out by someone in authority, that fans were to blame, stories splashed all over the front of The Sun newspaper in 1989 and repeated by the ignorant or self-preserving ever since, does so out of being an idiot. Not everyone has a connection to the tragedy that makes them spend time reading about it in any kind of detail. But countless times over the past few years, through this and other sites, people have got in touch to say they didn’t realise what had really happened, they didn’t know about the cover-ups, or about the detail of that Sun newspaper story, or about what kind of people fed that paper those lies. They apologise, they go out and tell others about what they’ve learned.

Decent people know, when they hear even a small part of the existing evidence out in the open, that 96 people died unnecessarily, that they didn’t die because some fans were drunk or even worse the wear for drink, that they didn’t die because of fans turning up without tickets, that they would still be here today if certain individuals had treated football supporters as people rather than animals.

Decent people know, when they hear for the first time about the 3:15pm cut-off, that there must be evidence out there never looked at, evidence that could not only shed more light on the failings of individuals that day but could also help prevent other tragedies from happening. The quest to protect people who were in the wrong means that for 23 years we’ve been at risk of a repeat of some of what went wrong after the disaster, or more accurately as the disaster continued to take place.
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