Premier League urged to tackle chants about Hillsborough that ‘shame’ football | Hillsborough disaster

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A Labour MP has called on the Premier League to help stamp out chants about the Hillsborough disaster, saying it has a “duty of care” to the survivors of the 1989 tragedy.

Ian Byrne says chants about the disaster aimed at Liverpool fans have become “incessant” and are now a weekly occurrence, and urged the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, to meet him in a bid to tackle the problem.

A 2016 inquest found 96 Liverpool supporters were unlawfully killed amid a catalogue of failings by the emergency services at a 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. Since then, Andrew Devine, who died in July last year after suffering life-changing injuries in the disaster, has also been determined to have been unlawfully killed at an inquest.

Byrne also told Masters that Hillsborough survivors had been deeply affected by events in Paris earlier this year, when Reds fans were kept penned outside the Stade de France for hours in the buildup to the Champions League final.

The French authorities initially laid the blame for the chaotic scenes on Liverpool supporters, whom they said had brought large numbers of counterfeit tickets. However, a French Senate report published in July said Liverpool fans were unfairly blamed to “divert attention” from the failure of the organisers.

In a letter to Masters dated last Friday, Byrne wrote: “These chants and the people behind them shame the game. Since the events of the Uefa final in Paris we have seen many [Hillsborough] survivors triggered and struggling, tragically three survivors have taken their lives this year alone and two since Paris.

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Peterborough apologise for ‘disgusting chants’

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Peterborough have condemned “disgusting chants” sung by a “small section” of the club’s fans during Saturday’s League One clash with Cambridge United.

Grant McCann’s side beat their local rivals 1-0 in front of an almost sell-out crowd of 12,766 at the Weston Homes Stadium but the clash was overshadowed by disorder, which also included the throwing of fireworks and extensive damage to the away end of the ground. 

One of the incidents highlighted by the club was the singing of “wholly inappropriate and disgusting chants” regarding Cambridge fan Simon Dobbin, who died in 2020 – five years after an attack following a match at Southend had left him with permanent brain damage.

A statement from Peterborough read: “We would like to unreservedly apologise to the family of Simon Dobbin and we will be working with the authorities to try and identify the culprits because those people are not ‘supporters’ of this football club. We condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.”

Peterborough said that anyone identified as having been involved in the throwing of pyrotechnics during the match would face disciplinary action, while also reporting that “extensive criminal damage” in the Deskgo Stand was “on a level not seen before” and affected toilets, offices and the concourse area. 

Following the game, there was also disorder outside the stadium involving both sets of supporters. The clubs are working with police to review CCTV footage and help identify those involved.

Leighton Mitchell, Peterborough’s interim chief executive, said on the club website: “It is important to note that the majority of supporters in attendance behaved well, but as seen too often at football matches, it is the minority that let themselves down and unfortunately that was the case on Saturday.

“The football club offer our sincere apologies to the family of Simon Dobbin. There is no place in society for what was chanted by a small section of so-called supporters and we will be working extremely hard to identify those involved.” PA Media

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“The Premier League has a duty of care to these supporters and the incessant chanting that is now a weekly occurrence must be tackled at the root causes.”

Byrne has called on the Premier League to assist with the rollout of The Real Truth Legacy Project, an initiative he is leading which aims “to educate current and future generations about what really happened at the disaster, and about the subsequent cover-up and the long fight for justice”.

Byrne added: “I cannot stress the detrimental impact these chants are having on the families of the 97, the survivors and their families. Enough really is enough and we need actions now from the Premier League and all football clubs involved to ensure that this stops.”

The Premier League has acknowledged receipt of the letter.

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