FA sorry for 1989 tragedy

2012-09-13 16:42
David Bernstein (AFP)

London - Football Association chairperson David Bernstein has issued an unreserved apology to the families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster following the publication of an independent report into British football's darkest day.

The report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, published on Wednesday, revealed a litany of police cover-ups in the wake of the horrific crush caused by overcrowding at the 1989 FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a public apology to the families of the victims on Wednesday, and there have already been calls for a fresh inquest and possible criminal charges brought against those responsible.

The hard-hitting report said more than 100 statements taken at the time had been doctored to remove evidence that portrayed the police in a negative light. It also disclosed a campaign by the authorities to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

Bernstein said the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium should never have happened.

"Ninety-six people lost their lives at the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 23 years ago," he said in a video statement on the FA's website on Thursday.

"We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected. This fixture was played in the FA's own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and to everyone connected with the city of Liverpool and Liverpool FC.

"This should never have happened. Nobody should lose their life when setting out to attend a football match and it is a matter of extreme regret and with sadness that it has taken so long for these findings to be published and the truth to be told.

"For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain and we have profound sympathy with them."

The victims in the Hillsborough tragedy died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at the stadium's Leppings Lane end.

Harrowing images of fans trying to escape the crush, fans being carried away on makeshift stretchers made from ripped-up advertising boards, and bodies strewn around the pitch were beamed around the world.

The independent panel, set up in 2010 by the previous Labour government to examine all the public paperwork relating to the tragedy, concluded that it could have been avoided, more lives could have been saved, and that the police response was flawed.

"There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and in its aftermath there were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame on to the fans," it said.

Hillsborough marked the lowest point in British football, which for decades leading up to the tragedy had been blighted by outdated facilities and hooliganism, ushering in a new era of modern family-friendly, all-seater stadiums.

"The FA and English football has changed immeasurably, and has learnt many lessons in the last 23 years," Bernstein said.

In an earlier statement the FA paid tribute to the families of the victims who have fought for more than two decades for justice for their loves ones.

"It is also important that the FA recognises the tireless commitment shown by so many, particularly the Hillsborough Family Support Group," it said.

"We welcome the publication of the report and the subsequent comments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition."

Victims' families say they are to press for a new inquest into the disaster and criminal charges brought against those responsible.

"The truth is out today, the justice starts tomorrow," Trevor Hicks, the president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and father of two teenage victims of the tragedy, said after the publication of the report.

"We will follow every avenue, from prosecution to changing the inquest verdicts. We are not looking for scapegoats, we are looking for accountability, and those responsible should hang their heads in shame."

Read more on:    fa  |  david bernstein  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Do you think SAFA made the right choice in appointing Stuart Baxter as head coach of Bafana Bafana?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.