Thursday 18 January 2018

Liverpool did not sing about Munich air disaster against Manchester United, say UEFA

Liverpool fans let off a red flare in the stands at Old Trafford
Liverpool fans let off a red flare in the stands at Old Trafford

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool have received details from Uefa regarding a charge of illicit chanting during the recent Europa League tie with Manchester United and it has emerged there are no allegations of references to football’s worst tragedies.

Both Liverpool and United’s supporters were widely condemned when chants mocking the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy and 1958 Munich air disaster were heard both during the recent fixtures and around the stadiums at Old Trafford and Anfield.

Only Liverpool were charged with any specific offence regarding the songs emanating from their fans – which relate to the second leg of the tie - but the nature of those allegations have now been revealed to be less insidious than initially believed.

The charge sheet references a specific Liverpool fans’ chant that ‘Manchester is full of s***’ and no other singing. UEFA have thus far made no observations regarding the more offensive songs aired during both games.

While the first leg at Anfield prompted no reports from the Uefa delegate in attendance, the Belgian representative at Old Trafford, Jean Paul Mievis, was suitably offended by the language used by the visiting fans to consider it fell under the boundaries of ‘illicit’.

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Uefa’s investigation might be considered draconian given these details raising questions as to the ambiguous boundaries set for the term ‘illicit’. Earlier in the season Manchester City fans had to answer similar charges for having the audacity to jeer the Champions League anthem.

Those charges, which followed City’s home game with Sevilla in October, were roundly mocked for being so trivial and later dropped.

Paradoxically, Uefa’s failure to acknowledge, understand and act upon those chants that were clearly audible during two hostile fixtures between Liverpool and United raises questions about the credibility and background knowledge of those they employ to prepare such reports.

Liverpool and United face separate charges related to fans behaviour and stadium controls during the recent European games.

Liverpool were charged with setting off fireworks, throwing objects, crowd disturbances and causing the late kick-off at the start of the second half at Old Trafford.

United must answer claims they blocked stairways, there were crowd disturbances and fans also threw objects. There is no charge of illicit chanting related to United fans.

Representatives of both clubs are currently providing their observations to Uefa who may still act on several other incidents pending further investigations.

A hearing date has already been set when Uefa’s control, ethics and disciplinary body will hear submissions from both English clubs.

That hearing is scheduled for May 19 - the day after the Europa League Final in Basel.

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