To us in North America, the severe class distinctions in Great Britain appear on the outside a relic from another age, one more suited to the time of Emily Bronte than David Peace. While the rest of the Western world had embraced the concept (if not the reality) of an upwardly mobile middle class, England seemed forever stuck in a classic Dickensian world pitting a static proletariat against an ancient, privileged aristocracy.
While the dividing lines in Britain were tempered somewhat in the post-war era, they came to a head with election of the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 on a mandate of sweeping change involving cuts to social housing and welfare, widespread privatization of public services, and reducing the power of Britain’s powerful trade unions.
The latter initiative resulted in a miner’s strike in 1984, a national trade union which Thatcher famously referred to “the enemy within.” During the strike, South Yorkshire Police arrested 95 miners for rioting, charges leveled on the back of evidence fabrication and police brutality.
This incident now seems to have been a blueprint for the South Yorkshire Police response to Hillsborough in which 96 people lost their lives on the way to watch an FA Cup game at Sheffield Wednesday. An independent report released today after an interminable wait of 23 years which revealed the worst suspicions of Liverpool fans: that the higher-ups in the South Yorkshire police amended official police accounts, 164 in total with 116 with statements completely excised, to help whitewash the official record. That they deliberately fed The Sun newspaper with incendiary and false reports about supposedly drunk and aggressive fans. That a slow emergency services response from the ambulance service may have cost the lives of up to forty-one of the ninety-six victims who were still showing signs of life at 3:15 PM. Abuses the families of the victims suspected for years. There is more, much more, which you can read here.
Hillsborough is a tragedy long painted by the culture of Liverpool FC, and of English football in general. And it is about football, yes. But it’s also reflects on an era in which football fans everywhere and anywhere in England, largely made up of working class people, were viewed as rabble by both the police, the tabloid press, and in some cases by the sitting government. An era in which police abused their powers, and were able to do so with near-complete impunity from their overseers.
While the report exonerates the government of any cover-up at the time, an official government cover-up would hardly have been necessary. Despite widely suspected corruption within the South Yorkshire Constabulary as early the Taylor report, corruption noted and frowned upon by the then Prime Minister Thatcher, the question remains why the government did not further press for an inquiry into widespread allegations of abuse.
David Cameron for his part apologized for that astonishing delay today in his statement to the House of Commons. What is required next, for the good of the residents of Liverpool, for the good of football, and in all likelihood for the good of the nation, is that those figures named in the report, who helped concoct a series of shameless lies that remained on the official public record for decades, be brought to justice.
Canada v Panama – Match Recap
Global match-fixing scandal involves Canadian semi-pro league.
Toronto FC v Chicago Fire – Match Preview
Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic and wife Evelyn celebrate the birth of triplets.
Injury scare for Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie, just imagine how upset/scared Ferguson is.
England v Ukraine – Match Recap
England v Ukraine – Player Ratings
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero back in training.
There’s a first time for everything – Steven Gerrard not pleased with first ever red card while representing England.
‘Toughest match now out of the way’ – Joleon Lescott
Playing hard to get – Stevan Jovetic confirms Manchester City snub.
Hillsborough papers/documents from 1989 tragedy released to victims’ families.
Tottenham’s David Bentley happy with staying in Russia.
Darren Fletcher plays in a low-key Manchester United friendly.
Shinji Kagawa downplays injury scare.
Harry Redknapp is just waiting for the right job to present itself.
Hodgson pleased with England’s progress.
Italy v Malta – Match Recap
Italy v Malta – Player Ratings
Cesena President fires brother after three consecutive losses.
Cesare Prandelli admits to Italy’s ‘Pirlo Problem’.
Spain v Georgia – Match Recap
Spain v Georgia – Player Ratings
Malaga and Atletico Madrid set to comply with UEFA financial rules.
Javi Martinez reportedly tries to break into Athletic Bilbao’s training ground.
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta defends Cristiano Ronaldo.
Germany v Austria – Game Recap
Germany v Austria – Player Ratings
Former Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden trains with Bayer Leverkusen.
Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus picks up injury on international duty.
Bits and bobs
The awesome facial expressions of Clint Dempsey…Tottenham fans should be excited
USA v Jamaica – Match Recap
Colombia v Chile – Match Highlights
Apparently former Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingston’s wife ‘cursed’ him with her evil powers.
Cheers to Michael Tomasone for the links.