An Increase in Tragedy Chanting Causes Concern

Last week a Tottenham fan was banned from attending football games for 3 years after admitting making gestures mocking the Hillsborough disaster at a Liverpool -v- Tottenham game in April. Just a week before, a Manchester United supporter was arrested during the FA cup final at Wembley after being seen wearing a shirt which appeared to refer in offensive terms to those who died in the tragedy.

Liverpool F.C. has long been subject to distasteful songs and chants about the 1989 disaster which have sadly increased over the years. In recent months, a number of Premier League teams have apologised to Liverpool and its fans for Hillsborough related chants and have appealed to their supporters to stop. A spokesperson for Liverpool F.C. has said that it was "saddened by the recent rise in vile chants".

In an interview with BBC Radio Merseyside, Peter Scarfe, chair of the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, reported that chants about Hillsborough are "a regular thing” He stated that the HSSA help “people who are struggling with their mental health and the troubles that they're having because of what happened on that day and the false narratives and the hate chants….. I'd like to see all clubs acting together and trying to stop this kind of hate-chanting going on.”

A petition set up in April 2023 ‘Make chanting about tragedies and death at a football match a criminal offence’, has, at the time of writing, gained over 17000 signatures. In response to the petition the Government has confirmed that they are ‘committed to tackling all harmful behaviours at football matches. Existing legislation can be used to prosecute those engaging in chanting about tragedies and death at football…. We have a strong framework of public order and football-specific legislation in England and Wales that is designed to reduce the risk of disorder at football, underpinned by football banning orders (FBOs) which are designed to deter disorderly behaviours and prevent further offending’.

Speaking to the Tribune in April this year Liverpool MP, Ian Byrne, gave the view that “it’s all about education”. He has been working with the Premier League to formulate a working group with supporter clubs to address the chanting. There are currently 1.3 million children under the Premier League Stars initiative who are taught about how futile these chants are in supporting their team and how they can cause harm.

The Premier League has commented that these ‘"issues have continued to cause significant distress to the victims' families, survivors and affected-club supporters, in addition to damaging the reputation of the clubs involved and football in England and Wales” All Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed new measures intended to address the “unacceptable rise in anti-social behaviour involving football tragedy-related chanting, gesturing, graffiti, online abuse and other behaviours last season.”


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