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Unanswered Questions Around Manchester City Fans’ Hillsborough Chanting

The Manchester club has yet to comment about reported hateful chanting

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 fan of Liverpool wearing a Liverpool shirt with ‘Justice - 97’ on is seen during the Liverpool Trophy Parade on May 29, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
 fan of Liverpool wearing a Liverpool shirt with ‘Justice - 97’ on is seen during the Liverpool Trophy Parade on May 29, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

During Sunday’s match at Anfield, Manchester City supporters in the Anfield Road away end were caught on video chanting, “The S*n was right, you’re murderers” at the wider Anfield crowd. Though the most viral video (linked below) were captured after the match, the chant and others could be clearly heard on broadcasts at varying times throughout the match, clearly referencing both the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters as a means to mock home supporters.

Liverpool FC promptly released a statement condemning the chanting. The full statement is as follows:

We are deeply disappointed to hear vile chants relating to football stadium tragedies from the away section during today’s game at Anfield. The concourse in the away section was also vandalised with graffiti of a similar nature.

We know the impact such behaviour has on the families, survivors and all those associated with such disasters.

We are working with the relevant authorities and we will also work with Manchester City in order to do our utmost to ensure these chants are eradicated from football altogether.

While the statement is welcome given that often such action goes unaddressed, many have called for more direct action on the part of the club. Charl Hennessey, who lost her father at Hillsborough and whose reposting of the video is linked above, has asked Liverpool to take meaningful steps to stop the abuse:

Many individual Manchester City supporters have condemned the chanting — as have many fan-created organizations, like MCFC Foodbank Support (who have also called on Manchester City to take action against such chanting in the past).

As of October 17th, however, Manchester City itself has yet to release a statement on the chanting in the ground. Per Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo, it seems that before any statement is released, the club is doing research from their own security and waiting on reports from Merseyside police “before deciding whether or not to investigate chants from the away end at Anfield yesterday.”

These chants, as well as graffiti on concourses in the away end which made similar references to Heysel and Hillsborough, should be investigated.

Gorst comments further:

In emails seen by the ECHO from City’s supporter compliance department, they say they are committed to rooting out the “vile behaviour” of those using the deaths of football fans to point-score on the terraces.

It’s unclear, however, how long it will take before City feel they have sufficient evidence from both police and security officers to act on the events at the Anfield Road end on Sunday.

It’s the third time in six months that City fans have stood accused of mocking the deaths of Liverpool supporters at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough in 1989.

It’s crucial that such hateful chanting has no place in the game, as some things are simply not banter.

Every time fans “mock” those who were killed at Hillsborough, people like Charl Hennessey, who dedicates so much energy to educating and advocating amidst her own grief, have to expend renewed energy addressing misinformation and facing despicable abuse online. A game of football should not make people have to relive the horrific last moments of loved ones to defend their long-established innocence, or slander those who survived the horrors of the Leppings Lane End on April 15th 1989 by suggesting that they are at fault for the deaths of their friends, loved ones, and fellow supporters.

Fans in the ground on Sunday who lost friends and loved ones, like David Hughes, are confronted with things they should never have to face while simply trying to enjoy a game of football. This is quite simply not on.

Some things are bigger than simple tribal differences between sets of football supporters, and the responsibility is on all of us to work to make “banter” about the sport, not about someone’s identity, social class, or the loss of innocent people in a tragedy. It is also the responsibility of the clubs whose fans sing such vile abuse to root it out (through education and, where appropriate, punishment). It is also the responsibility of national news media to report on such abuse, both as it happens and in the aftermath. Such chanting should not be reported on in Merseyside only.

Adrien Tempany, whose book And The Sun Shines Now: How Hillsborough and the Premier League Changed Britain is an excellent analysis of the impact of the Hillsborough Disaster on British culture, suggests that the time for stronger action, especially in the present context, is now:

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