There are times when you set your expectations so very, very low. And people still manage not to meet them. So it is today with Manchester City’s reaction to their players celebrating their Premier League victory by singing a song about Liverpool mocking death and injury.
We never expected much. A non-apology apology, perhaps. Something about the players singing a song they’d heard in the stands, that they didn’t know or understand any deeper meaning to it, and that they were sorry—not for singing it, but if anyone took offence.
What we got from City included the first bit, that they’d heard it in the stands. But then it denied there was any potentially offensive deeper meaning and didn’t even offer the sort of half-assed we’re sorry if anyone took offence so common of corporate non-apologies.
City’s players sang a song including a line about Liverpool fans being battered in the streets. And the club’s response was that it’s not a line about Sean Cox, the most high profile case of a Liverpool fan being attacked last year. Rather it’s about some other fans being attacked.
And, somehow, since it’s about some other Liverpool fans—fans who didn’t end up in comas as a result of it—being attacked, it’s not a problem that City’s players are now singing about it. That’s the club’s official stance on the matter. It’s both laughable and risible.
They also deny that a line about Liverpool fans always being the victims isn’t a reference to Hillsborough, and while some fans aim songs including such lines at Liverpool supporters may only mean to mock a perceived general victim mentality, that’s not the root of it.
The root is, and always has been, in Hillsborough—and in Heysel and in the overwhelming mood of Tory England in the 1980s as austerity heaped additional poverty and misery on a city and region and sought to paint the people as hooligans and criminals who deserved it.
Even Manchester United have in the past admitted that always the victim, never your fault chants are well over the line for what is acceptable for fans—let alone players—to sing, apologising and saying that “the club deplore” the use of such chants by their supporters.
Now, City’s players are recorded singing it and that club says there is nothing to apologise for. Additionally, in their refusal to even offer a non-apology apology, they completely ignore a line, sung by City’s players, celebrating Vincent Kompany injuring Mohamed Salah.
We had such very, very low expectations for City here, and they still didn’t come close to meeting them.
Manchester City’s statement on the incident:
The song in question, which has been a regular chant during the 2018-19 season, refers to the 2018 Uefa Champions League final in Kiev. Any suggestion that the lyrics relate to Sean Cox or the Hillsborough tragedy is entirely without foundation.