FA concerned by rise of ‘abhorrent chants’ about Hillsborough disaster

The Football Association has expressed concern over the rise in frequency of offensive chanting about the Hillsborough disaster.

Labour MP Ian Byrne, himself a survivor of the 1989 tragedy, said in a letter to the Premier League last week that such chants had now become “incessant”, and a “weekly occurrence” at games involving Liverpool.

Ninety-seven Reds fans were found to have been unlawfully killed as a result of the failings of the emergency services at the FA semi-final match against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough.

While the FA considers chants about the disaster to be deeply inappropriate and offensive, it cannot sanction clubs over them because it only has jurisdiction under its rules to act on discriminatory chanting.

However, the governing body says it supports efforts to stamp out the behaviour.

“We are very concerned about the rise of abhorrent chants in stadiums that are related to the Hillsborough disaster and other football-related tragedies,” an FA spokesperson said.

“These chants are highly offensive and are deeply upsetting for the families, friends and communities who have been impacted by these devastating events, and we strongly condemn this behaviour. We support clubs and fans who try to stamp out this behaviour from our game.

“We also support the excellent work of the survivor groups who engage with stakeholders across football to help educate people about the damaging and lasting effects that these terrible chants can have.”

Byrne told Premier League chief executive Richard Masters in a letter sent last Friday that his organisation had a “duty of care” to stamp out the chanting, and said three Hillsborough survivors had taken their own lives this year alone, two of them since the Champions League final in Paris.

At that match in May, Reds supporters were kept penned outside the perimeter of the stadium for hours before kick-off.

The French authorities initially attempted to blame ticketless Liverpool supporters for the chaos, but a subsequent French senate report said Reds fans had been unfairly scapegoated in an attempt to divert attention away from organisational failings.

Byrne wants the Premier League to back The Real Truth Legacy Project, an initiative he leads to educate people about what happened at Hillsborough.

He tweeted on Wednesday afternoon: “A welcome statement from the FA who are welcome to join our meeting with the ⁦@premierleague when agreed. The need for football stakeholders to work on the education of supporters regards Hillsborough is long overdue.”