Monday 21 May 2018

English newspaper issues apology to Liverpool fans and suspends journalist over controversial Anfield attack article

A view of The Albert pub on Walton Breck Road after the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final First Leg match at Anfield, Liverpool. Tuesday April 24, 2018. Police are investigating
A view of The Albert pub on Walton Breck Road after the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final First Leg match at Anfield, Liverpool. Tuesday April 24, 2018. Police are investigating "a serious assault" following reports a Liverpool fan was attacked ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma at Anfield. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The journalist who wrote an article for the Daily Express where he alleged that Liverpool fans were culpable for the violent scenes ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Roma on Tuesday night has been suspended.

In an article published yesterday on the Daily Express website, journalist Colin Mafham claimed that violence follows Liverpool supporters around, and Roma fans may have been incited to start trouble due to Liverpool's previous reputation.

53-year-old Meathman Sean Cox was seriously injured outside Anfield after being assaulted by two Roma fans.

Cox and his brother were waiting outside the landmark Albert pub ahead of kick off when the attack occurred.

Cox sustained severe injuries and is currently in an induced coma in the Walton Neurological Centre near Anfield stadium.

His devastated family must wait over the weekend until medics begin the process of trying to wake him. Only then can they begin to assess the degree of injury he has received, how long term it is likely to be, and if surgery was a success.

The reaction to the piece on social media was strong, with the Liverpool Echo publishing an article refuting the claims and calling the original piece 'vile'.

"Why does trouble seem to follow them like bees round a honey pot?," Mafham wrote.

"It's not the players who produced that performance who I have an issue with, it's some of the people who 'follow' them that frighten the living daylights out of me.

"You would have thought the deaths of 39 Italians at the European Cup final Liverpool lost to Juventus in 1985 - plus the five year ban on English clubs that consequently came after that - would have had a sobering effect."

The writer also addressed the Sean Cox situation and claimed that Liverpool fans are partly to blame for the violence that occurred.

"Why is a 53-year-old man now seemingly fighting for his life, and two Italians being held on suspicion of attempted murder, before a football match involving Liverpool?," he said.

"When you have a team capable of playing the joyous football Liverpool have for most of this season, how on earth are their fans always seemingly involved in such horrific altercations on big European nights."

"No one is suggesting that the violence that erupted on Tuesday night was solely the fault of Liverpool fans," he adds.

"Their visitors from Rome were clearly just as thuggish, and just as frightening.

"But there are suggestions that the reputation of Liverpool supporters had gone before them and Roman yobs had simply decided to get in first, and with such awful consequences. It's not right, but it does again highlight a common denominator."

The Daily Express subsequently removed the story and have since published a statement where they apologised to Liverpool FC and their fans.

"This article was ill-informed and wrong," the statement says.

"It did not, in any way, reflect the views of the Express. It should never have been written and was very quickly removed.

"We unconditionally apologise, both for the article itself and any offence, understandably, caused.

"The journalist who wrote the piece was immediately suspended.

"Express.co.uk is conducting an inquiry into how the article came to be published on our website."

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