Anfield unity this weekend can show “football’s not all bad”
In among the japes, the oh-so-amusing ‘banter’ and the general insensitivity often found emanating from the stands, once in a while the humble sport of football has the power to unite people in a way that is bigger than the game itself. Manchester United travel to Anfield this weekend to take on Liverpool, where the sides plan to pay their respects to the 96 football fans who died at Hillsborough. It’s time to put petty grievances to one side, and for common human decency to prevail, insists the Life’s a Pitch panel.
Following a weekend of dubious chants from Man Utd fans, Rory Smith of the Times suggests that the peaceful majority will shine through this weekend. “The crucial thing to remember here is that it’s not about being a football fan; it’s about being a basic, decent human being – you don’t mock people’s deaths, you don’t look to wound your rivals, you just behave in a decent fashion. Hopefully that goes for both sides, because there are still people at Liverpool who chant about Munich – not many any more, but it happens. It’s a chance for football to show that it’s not all bad.”
Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror was angered by the actions of a minority last weekend, but is equally optimistic about the coming clash between the old foes. “The gesture planned, to have Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic releasing 96 red balloons, is a beautiful one,” he says. “The thing that still frustrates, annoys and angers me is the justification for Saturday’s chants – that it wasn’t about Hillsborough it was about Luis Suárez. ‘Always the victims, it’s never your fault’ – to try to suggest it’s anything other than an insidious dog whistle is a disgrace. I’m hoping that we witness on Sunday what it’s supposed to be all about: common values, humanity and empathy.”
Following the respectful behaviour of supporters to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich anniversary of four years ago, Dave Kidd of The People sees good reason to be optimistic that the fans will behave. “The Munich anniversary was a great occasion, perfectly observed. There were weeks of build-up and people assuming that it was going to be ruined, and it wasn’t – it passed off extremely well.”
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
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Watch Liverpool and Man Utd live on BT Vision:
Young Boys v Liverpool, 5.45pm, 20 September, ITV4
Liverpool v Man Utd, 1pm, 23 September, Sky Sports 1
Man Utd v Tottenham, 4.30pm, 29 September, ESPN
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