Have you read that article by that American “journalist” who called the Hillsborough stadium disaster a “riot”, and said that Liverpudlians are “bonkers” for still mourning it?
Even as a Manchester United fan, I am absolutely furious and appalled by the ignorance, callousness and sheer stupidity of this fellow, Alex Beam, who writes for the Boston Globe.
He also says “European soccer” has “deranged standards”, calls Victoria Beckham “appalling” for no good reason (apart from the love of his own words, or maybe a raging jealously that women like her have been forever out of his league), implies that there are no “sane” people in Liverpool and called their city “grotty”.
First of all, the Hillsborough disaster was NOT a riot, it was a tragic incident which took 96 lives, the youngest of whom was a 10-year-old. Investigations concluded that poor crowd policing and a lack of safety regulations back then were the primary causes of the disaster, not a riot as Beam so flippantly wrote.
I was at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium earlier this year during the 20th anniversay of the disaster, and it was very solemn. It was an incident that greatly affected the people, especially as Liverpool isn’t a huge city, and many of its residents would have been somehow connected to someone at Hillsborough that day.
On the day I visited, people were bringing their whole families to place flowers at the stadium, some mourning the death of someone dear to them, others just out of respect to the dead.
And as I stood there, reading the names on the Hillsborough memorial and the messages written around the flowers, I could still feel the gravity of the incident, the weight of emotion and the sense of sadness the city and its people felt over the lives lost.
But then this journalist, who obviously knows very little about football and it’s history, comes along all sarcastic and cavalier, and uses Hillsborough to try and prove his point that Liverpudlians are bonkers.
While as a United fan I’m all too eager to add to claims that Liverpool fans are bonkers in the heat of football banter, but the people of Liverpool are not crazy. I’ve lived in Liverpool for a few months and I didn’t find a thing wrong with them – except that they loved their football too much, and didn’t take too kindly to me wearing my United jersey while watching games at the pub. Still, there were always one or two blokes who’d have a laugh and toast a drink with me about it.
And secondly, European soccer is not deranged. The champions of American basketball used to be called “NBA World Championship” winners, and baseball’s “World Series” is really just between teams from the United States and Canada. Who’s deranged now?
Also, Liverpool was only just recently awarded the title of European Capital of Culture. How is that “grotty”? Admittedly, there are some dodgy-looking neighbourhoods in Merseyside, but which city doesn’t? And that’s still no excuse for calling it out in such insulting fashion under the pretense of an article about football.
The sub-headline of the piece also says that Liverpool FC’s new American owners “might find these soccer fans a pretty tough crowd”. I don’t know about you, but for me, that – in the context of the article – borders on bigotry.
The Boston Globe has already had to issue an apology for Beam’s extraordinarily senseless article, saying that him calling Hillsborough a riot was simply a “reporting error”.
As a writer, I’ve written some stupid things in the past that I’m not proud of; but I’ve always tried to learn from them and apologised whenever and wherever it’s due, and sometimes even when it isn’t. Comes with the job, right?
Now that his publication has apologised on behalf of his “error”, it’s time that Mr. Beam himself apologises to the people of Liverpool, the families and friends of those who died at Hillsborough, and Liverpool fans around the world who feel such a deep connection to the footballing institution that is Liverpool FC.