At nearly every match, Liverpool supporters are subject to chants about Hillsborough, but finally the Premier League appear to be beginning to take the abuse seriously.
Chants about Liverpool fans being ‘victims’ are commonplace at football games and it is something fans have had to endure as a part of a regular matchday.
It appears, though, that the abuse has finally begun to be acknowledged outside Liverpool FC.
Over the space of four days, Man City and Chelsea supporters in their thousands chanted ‘murderers’, ‘always the victims’ and ‘sign on’, leading both clubs to issue statements.
Chelsea‘s statement was 33 words in length and apologised to “anyone who has been offended.”
The Premier League made comment after the Chelsea match, saying: “We continue to treat this as an unacceptable issue and are seeking to address it as a priority.”
And now the Guardian reports that, informed by Ian Byrne MP and supporters’ groups, the Premier League, the FA, the EFL, clubs and the Football Supporters’ Association have consulted the police.
Currently, no laws are in place to prosecute offenders and it is down to clubs to punish individuals.
One notable case of a fan being disciplined was when Shrewsbury banned two people for a total of eight years in January 2022.
Unfortunately, this is a rare exception to the rule and there are often thousands who sing these songs referencing tragedies.
Ahead of the 34th anniversary of Hillsborough next week, Charlotte Hennessy, who lost her father, James Hennessy, in 1989, has launched an official petition to end the abuse.
My dad was unlawfully killed at Hillsborough when I was 6 years old. The death of our 97, the suffering of my family, other families and survivors is NOT your "football banter".
Please support me in calling for hate chants to be made a criminal offence!https://t.co/Tx5efDjt9Y
— Charl Hennessy #JFT97 (@charlhennessy1) April 5, 2023
In the petition, Ms Hennessy calls for “the government to make chanting, shouting, singing, and mocking about tragedies and death, at football matches, a hate crime.”
At the time of writing, the campaign already has almost 7,000 signatures in under 24 hours, and the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance has backed the petition.
Back in 2011, an online petition started by Brian Irvine from This Is Anfield put the government under public pressure to release details of Margaret Thatcher’s private Cabinet discussion.
However, even if legislation is passed to make the abuse a criminal offence, it may be difficult to police due to the sheer number of offenders.
Regardless, it could at least hopefully act as a deterrent.
An additional solution would be for clubs to take direct action and inform supporters with proper campaigns, like Liverpool did when condemning ‘rent boy’ chants against Chelsea.
They still happen on occasion but much less frequently and with many fewer numbers involved.
This is down to supporters’ self-policing after Jurgen Klopp sat down on video with Paul Amann, founder of LGBT+ fans’ group Kop Outs, to discuss why the slur is homophobic.
While much stronger action is needed from the clubs themselves, the petition is one step on the road to eliminating these hurtful chants that plague football.
A petition requires 10,000 signatures to receive a government response, and 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament.
April 15 is the 34th anniversary of Hillsborough and Liverpool will mark the occasion before Sunday’s match against Arsenal at Anfield.