This past week has been a monumental one for Liverpool football club and its supporters. With the truth being published this week about the Hillsborough disaster, some 23 years after 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives on 15th April 1989, emotions are running high on Merseyside.
With Manchester United coming to town next weekend Sir Alex Ferguson has called for the end to the ‘vile chants’ between both sets of supporters.
With such a high profile clash occurring so soon after the truth has been revealed in the public domain there are concerns regarding the fixture at Anfield next week. Ferguson amongst others is desperate for the Hillsborough and Munich air disaster taunts to stop on the terraces.
Support for the club has been phenomenal on the first weekend since the victims at Hillsborough were completely exonerated from any blame for the disaster – fans of both blue and red turned out on Wednesday to hear the results of the independent investigation whilst Sunderland sent messages of support when Liverpool cam to Wearside. Yet attention has now turned to Anfield and Manchester United, a fixture that has been filled with controversy in recent years (thanks mostly to the Luis Suarez race row).
To be blunt, the chants have simply got to stop. That is the bottom line. As a Liverpool fan it is awful to hear chants accusing Liverpool fans of being ‘murderers’ or other songs that besmirch the memory of the 96 victims. However Kopites are not completely exempt from blame here – the Munich air crash was a horrific event and something that should not be ridiculed. Fans are simply tarnishing the reputation of their clubs with such taunts.
As I have said before, such songs ridiculing these tragedies have to be stopped even if it requires the assistance of the authorities. The police and football authorities have taken massive strides towards eradicating racism on the terraces in recent years. The authorities should treat such songs and chants just as seriously if we are to completely drive them out of the game.
Rivalry is good between sets of football supporters yet only to a certain level. Liverpool and Manchester United fans have shared a fierce rivalry as a result of their respective success. Yet whilst its all well and good to mock each other, chants ridiculing the dead are just plain wrong. Sir Alex Ferguson’s words may help to calm fans before Sunday yet this is only a temporary solution.
Rivalry can be a healthy part of the modern game. Yet fans should remember that ultimately respect is more important.