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Deeper Issues Unite Fans Ahead Of Carling Cup Final

Thursday 23rd February 2012
A cup final it may be, but more important matters seem to be preoccupying the minds of both Liverpool and Cardiff City fans.

Almost 23 years ago, at an FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, British tabloid ‘The Sun' printed a bunch of lies about one of the worst stadium disasters in football, the Hillsborough disaster, and headlined it 'The Truth'.

The disaster left 96 fans dead and around 766 injured. Below the headline were three subheadings: 'Some fans picked pockets of victims'; 'Some fans urinated on the brave cops'; 'Some fans beat up Police Constables giving the kiss of life'.

All were lies. The Taylor Inquiry after the disaster found that fans had responded quicker than the emergency services, performing several acts of heroism. However, the newspaper's slurs still linger, with many victims' relatives claiming it has hampered the fight for justice.

Copies of ‘The Sun' were openly burnt in the city's streets and many newsagents refused to stock it. A rival publication estimated that over 15 years, the then editor, Kelvin MacKenzie's misjudgement cost owner Rupert Murdoch(yes, the same Rupert Murdoch implicated in the ‘News of the World' scandal) around £55 million in lost circulation.

Most riling is the fact that the newspaper and Kelvin MacKenzie have still refused to offer an unconditional apology in all of 23 years.

Fast forward to September 2011 and a Euro 2012 qualifier between England and Wales. The death of Cardiff City supporter Michael Dye shortly before the start of the match cast an obvious pall over the subsequent discussion of that match.

Initially, it was assumed that Mr. Dye's death occurred due to fighting between England and Wales supporters. The however, Police confirmed that the six men arrested in connection with the incident were Welsh, and that Mr. Dye himself was a Cardiff City supporter.

Even so, The Sun once again snarled that Mr. Dye ‘was closely associated with Cardiff City's notorious “Soul Crew” of trouble-seeking louts'. It went on to accuse supporters of Cardiff City and their closest rivals, Swansea City, of pre-match hostilities, without any foundation whatsoever.

Mr. Dye's friends called the coverage ‘despicable'. The Football Supporters' Federation issued a statement saying, “In the immediate aftermath of the tragic incident, fact, myth and rumour swirled as events rapidly unfurled. Sadly, certain tabloid journalists ran reports that showed a lack of respect and sensitivity to Mike Dye – a family man and father of three.”

Heart-warmingly, Cardiff City forums have been flooded with messages of support from their rivals from Swansea. Supporters from both clubs organized a charity match with all proceedings going to the victim's family.

Now, with both Liverpool and Cardiff heading for a showpiece Wembley Carling Cup final, supporters are doing all they can to draw the attention of the media to the purported injustice.

Rupert Murdoch's perceived audacity in launching, ‘The Sun on Sunday' on the same day as the final is being seen as yet another mark of disrespect to both clubs. Banners, posters, leaflets - fans are leaving no stone unturned in getting the message across.

It is perhaps ironic – yet not surprising – that those that are so often demonised by a section of the press are behaving with considerably more respect, grace and dignity than those that have spent the best part of many years concocting innuendo and half-stories about human tragedies.

Those wishing to know more about the respective campaigns, please visit





Yashasvi Diptivilasa

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