It happened again. Although the apparent suicide bombing at the immediate conclusion of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was not football related, it very well could have been.
Once again, innocent people went to an event and for reasons beyond their control they will never return home. As Liverpool fans, we carry with us the memories of the 96, and nearly three decades on, fight for their justice. Rooted in that justice is the philosophy that no one should ever go to a football game and—through either malice or negligence—never return. The same can be said for any similar large gathering of people.
As of this writing, 22 people are dead—including children—and another 60 injured from this senseless attack. There’s not much more to be said other than to wish the families and the city of Manchester our deepest heartfelt condolences.
These victims paid good money to escape from the ordinary grind of life, even if only for a few hours. To listen to music. To dance. To sing. To feel a little freedom. To turn their brains off from the stressful, complicated world we find ourselves in.
Many of us watch football for the same reasons. To sing. To celebrate. To escape from the “real world” for an afternoon.
The cities of Manchester and Liverpool are rivals on and off the pitch, but so much of that rivalry comes from similarities, and dare I say, jealousies. Both cities have blue collar roots. Both have northwestern pride, that Londoners will never understand. Both are football crazy in ways other cities just will never understand. And both want success, especially at the others’ cost.
This attack is intended to spread fear. Fear of any large gathering (football very much included). Fear of the other. It is an attack, like so many before it, begging for an overreaction. It is an attack on the eve of an election, intended to further exacerbate divisions.
We divide ourselves on the pitch. Red. Blue. That other red. But there’s no reason to divide ourselves off it. Today, we should stand with Manchester. Stand for freedom to sing, dance, celebrate, gather, and live.