LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – The Premier League says it will offer education resources for school children aimed at curbing the so-called tragedy abuse that often blights matches in England.
Newly-promoted Luton Town’s home draw with Liverpool on Sunday was marred by some of their fans chanting in reference to the Hillsborough tragedy, bringing widespread condemnation.
“The Premier League strongly condemns all forms of football tragedy abuse and was appalled by the chanting heard at Sunday’s match,” a statement said.
“We, alongside clubs, The Football Association and Football League, continue to treat offensive tragedy-related chanting, gesturing and displaying of abusive messages as unacceptable and are committed to working together to address it as a priority.”
From next week resources will be made available to 18,000 primary schools and 6,000 teachers in England and Wales, including a video by Liverpool supporter Margaret Aspinall, whose son James was one of the 97 to lose their lives as a result of the crushing at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
“The pain it causes is unbearable; we do not deserve to hear these chants, they hurt just as much as losing your child,” Aspinall, former Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said in a statement.
“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.”
New measures were introduced this season which mean those involved in the often vile chants can face stadium bans or potentially criminal prosecution.
Education can also play a key role in stamping out the chanting, according to the Premier League.
“Football tragedy abuse causes significant distress to the victims’ families and other football supporters,” the Premier League said.
“As part of the package of measures announced at the start of the season, the Premier League will launch education resources to help children understand the hurt and impact of negative behaviour such as tragedy-related abuse.”
Luton issued a statement saying the club was “saddened” by the behaviour of some of their fans and threatened to ban anyone found to be involved.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who was working at the game for Sky Sports, said a line needed to be drawn.
“As supporters you’ve got to have rivalry, there is no doubt. But we’re better than that,” Carragher said.
“It’s happened two or three times in the game. All clubs have been guilty of that over the years at different times.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman
Editing by Toby Davis
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