In light of the recent revelations about the tragic events at Hillsborough, Manchester United’s upcoming trip to Anfield will be more than the usual derby. With tensions already raised because of the infamous words spoken between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra last season, the club has called for all parties to show respect in our match this Sunday. It is a good occasion to ask both sets of supporters to put an end to derogatory chants about the respective tragedies in our histories.
The rivalry between the two teams was inflamed at Old Trafford last season when Luis Suarez started the racism row with Patrice Evra. The FA committee appointed to resolve the matter, with members approved by both clubs, found that Suarez had used racist language and issued him a lengthy ban. The response from Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish brought English football one of its most bizarre episodes as they bent over backward to ‘support’ Suarez and claim they were being victimised.
Many Liverpool fans closed ranks and somehow Patrice Evra became a hate figure for them. Let’s hope that the crowd at Anfield does not repeat their action from the FA Cup tie last January, where Evra was booed when he was on the ball as it could well lead to an escalation of tensions.
But what about the United supporters and our chant about Suarez? Following the confrontation with Evra, some started singing “Always the victims, it’s never your fault” – an attempt to poke fun at Liverpool fans’ insistence that Suarez was innocent. Some may feel that he deserves the derision for his transgressions, but there is concern that the chant may be confused with a reference to Hillsborough. While the Manchester United Supporter’s Trust has come out and stated the song is not about Hillsborough, it seems best to put it on hold at least for this game, so there is no confusion.
I hope both sets of supporters take this opportunity to focus on celebrating the qualities of their own club and show the same sort of respect that the visiting Manchester City fans showed on the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. Not only is it important for the safety of the crowd, it is clearly the right thing to do.
Some things transcend football and both sets of supporters know the hearbreak of tragedy. Some things should not be the subject of mockery.
I’m also a strong believer that Suarez and Evra should shake hands and both sets of supporters hold off on heckling them, if only for a day.
Speaking ahead of the match, Sir Alex told the media:
“It is going to be a very emotional day. We will support them in every way we can. We are supportive of Liverpool.”
For this game, I agree we should all show support for Liverpool and keep the chanting respectful and positive. As far as any chants about Hillsborough or the Munich Air Disaster, one should only have to stop for a second and think to realise what they are talking about.
Manchester and Liverpool as cities, not clubs, had their hearts ripped out when the Munich Air Disaster and Hillsborough happened. It is about time that fans today ignore the tribal nature of club supporting and pay homage to those who tragically lost their lives in the cruel disasters.