Tragedy chanting causes ‘unbearable pain’ and must stop – Margaret Aspinall

The Premier League has joined forces with former Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall to highlight the pain and upset that tragedy abuse can cause.

Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James was one of the 97 people who lost their lives at the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989, has participated in a video to explain the hurt caused by tragedy chanting and urged people to report any incidents.

An in-classroom lesson is to be made available to more than 18,000 primary schools and 60,000 teachers in England and Wales and outline to children the significant distress such abuse creates, and comes in the aftermath of Sunday’s Premier League match between Luton and Liverpool.

The Football Association has asked Luton and Bedfordshire Police for their observations after taunts indirectly referencing the Hillsborough disaster were heard during the 1-1 draw, while the PA news agency understands Liverpool have also written asking what measures are to be taken.

Aspinall said: “Football brings so much joy to so many people all over the world, but there is no need for people to be chanting in the way they do.

“The pain it causes is unbearable. We do not deserve to hear these chants.

“If you hear that chanting, go to a steward, report it as, through the proper authorities, you can change things. Anything that offends or hurts anybody is never acceptable.”

Liverpool published Aspinall’s comments and details of the in-classroom lesson, which will be made available as part of the Premier League Primary Stars programme, on their club website.

They said: “Liverpool Football Club condemns any and all form of tragedy abuse in the strongest possible terms.

“We are committed to continuing to work with the relevant authorities, stakeholders and other clubs to eradicate it from our game.”

Luton issued a statement on Monday saying they were “saddened” and “extremely disappointed that a small number of supporters soured the occasion with chants that may be interpreted as being in relation to tragedies that have affected Liverpool FC in the past”.

The Hatters said they were reviewing CCTV evidence to identify individuals, who could face stadium bans and criminal prosecutions.

However, part of Luton’s statement suggesting fans may have sung the chants without knowing the full meaning of what they were singing is understood to have not been received particularly well on Merseyside.

“The Premier League strongly condemns all forms of football tragedy abuse and is appalled by the chanting heard at Sunday’s match between Luton and Liverpool,” the organisation said in a statement.

“It causes distress to the victims’ families and other supporters. We, alongside clubs, the FA and EFL (English Football League) are working together to address it as a priority.

“This video will feature in new education resources being launched to help children understand the impact of such abuse.

“The game’s authorities alongside law enforcement are committed to taking action against those responsible. If you see or hear any offensive behaviour, report it.”