Offensive football fans have warned they could face suspensions over tragedy abuse


Football fans could be banned from matches, including next year’s Euros, for poke fun at tragedies like the Hillsborough disaster, the Munich plane crash, the Bradford fire or the death of Emiliano Sala in a plane crash.

The updated Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines aim to address tragedy-related abuse in which fans sing, chant or gesture offensive messages about disasters or accidents involving players or fans.

The guide, which helps prosecutors in making legal decisions in cases, reiterates that abuse in connection with a tragedy can be seen as a breach of public order.

The move was backed by chief executives from the Football Association, the Premier League and the English Football League.

The guidance also sets out how lawyers can apply for football ban orders. These may prevent fans from attending matches and impose other restrictions such as travel to certain areas and during tournaments, or access to pubs during game time.

Douglas Mackay of the CPS said: “A small minority of so-called supporters damage the reputation of the sport and, more importantly, this offense is having a devastating impact on the families of victims of tragedy and the communities closely linked to these events”. “

He added: “We want fans to be passionate about our national sport without crossing the line into crime.”

As the new football season begins, the CPS, Police, Clubs, Players’ Associations as well as the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, Women’s Championship, National Football League and National Refereeing Organization want to explain to football fans the implications of this behaviour and the punishment they face if they commit a crime.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said the organization works closely with the CPS and welcomes efforts to tackle the “pointless and vicious chanting that unfortunately is practiced by a minority of supporters”.

FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham called abuse linked to the tragedy “completely unacceptable”, adding: “This behavior is extremely offensive and may have a lasting impact on the families, friends and communities who have been devastated by these events.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “We firmly believe there is no place in football for despicable tragedies.

“Together with our clubs and the authorities, we are committed to sanctioning those found guilty and will also focus on educating fans of all ages so they understand why this abuse is so hurtful and unacceptable.”

Trevor Birch, Chief Executive of the English Football League, said: “There is absolutely no place for football tragedy to be abused in any area of ​​life, so football and the authorities, including the CPS, are introducing strong new measures to combat this behaviour.” ”

There have been several successful prosecutions in recent months.

97 football fans died as a result of a collision during an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on 15 April 1989.

A jury of inquiry ruled in 2016 that the Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed due to a series of police errors.

Louise Brookes, 51, the sister of a football fan who died in the Hillsborough disaster, fought back tears in court in June after she told an internet troll who said he was planning to defecate on her brother’s grave. told that he was a “disgusting” coward.

She was speaking at London’s Stratford Magistrates’ Court when 28-year-old Zakir Hussain, from Ilford, was sentenced to a 14-week jail sentence suspended for a year after he tweeted numerous hateful messages on a social networking site in April 2020 posted and tagged them in some of them.

He also made racist remarks about the supporters of another Premier League football club.

In June, 33-year-old Warwickshire Manchester United fan James White giggled in the dock after being handed a four-year football ban after admitting to wearing a football shirt at Wembley that contained an offensive reference to the Hillsborough -represented disaster.

He had pleaded guilty to displaying threatening or offensive writing likely to cause harassment, concern or distress at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in north-west London.

Tottenham fan Kieron Darlow, 25, from Welwyn, has also been banned from attending football matches for three years after being found guilty of mocking the Hillsborough disaster.

He made a gesture to Liverpool fans during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Spurs at Anfield on April 30.

Darlow admitted the gesture suggested that ticketless fans fueled the tragedy and were partly responsible for the crowds that led to so many deaths, the CPS said.

Seven Manchester United footballers were among the 21 people killed in the Munich plane crash in February 1958.

In May 1985, 56 football fans died after a fire destroyed the main stand during a football game between Bradford City and Lincoln City.

Footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, was flying to Wales from Nantes in France to join then Premier League club Cardiff City when the plane crashed in the English Channel near Guernsey in January 2019, taking the 59-year-old pilot with it Killed David Ibbotson. Offensive football fans have warned they could face suspensions over tragedy abuse

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