Liverpool supporters have inundated British fashion retailer Topman with multiple requests via social media outlets to discontinue sales of a shirt that was widely regarded as referencing the 1989 Hillsborough disaster - which claimed the lives of 96 victims - in a blithely offensive manner.
The long-sleeved red shirt features a large “96” on the back, accompanied by the phrase “what goes around comes around,” as well as the word “karma” on one sleeve. Numerous fans have expressed concerns that the shirt almost appears to be tailor-made to convey an unspeakably ugly sentiment sometimes expressed by the more unsavory elements among rival supporters: namely, that the Hillsborough disaster was a sort of punishment for the events of the Heysel Stadium disaster a number of years earlier.
Topman are coming under pressure to withdraw a shirt some believe refers to the Hillsborough disaster.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 15, 2018
Some fans suggested that the shirt was probably an oblique reference to a Bob Marley song from 1996 titled “What Goes Around Comes Around,” and that the Hillsborough connection was inadvertent. If it was inadvertent, it means there are some shockingly clueless individuals vetting items for sale, since Hillsborough and the facts surrounding it are not exactly obscure trivia. Furthermore, indications that the shirt was selling briskly earlier in the day stoked fears that it would be used by troll-like factions intent on upsetting Liverpool supporters.
While Topman did not offer any comment or statement on the shirt for most of March 15th, the retailer did eventually reach out to the Liverpool Echo via a spokesman, and provided the following apology:
“Topman apologises unreservedly for any offence caused by this t-shirt. The design was inspired by a Bob Marley track with the number referring to the year of re-release. The garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”