Sunday’s grand footballing occasion at Anfield, with the eyes of the football world all watching, as well as the somber remembrance of Hillsborough's 30th anniversary were marred by repeated and vigorous homophobic chanting against Chelsea by Liverpool fans, as well as an incident of a flare being thrown into the away support, which sent a 9-year-old boy to hospital.
Merseyside Police have opened an investigation into the latter incident, with Liverpool Football Club also pledging to ban for the person responsible. To their credit, Liverpool have also condemned the rampant homophobic chanting, which is may be the first time this has been recognized and acknowledged in such a way as an area that needs to be addressed just like every other form of discrimation and hate-speech.
“Liverpool Football Club would like to thank the players, staff, officials and supporters of Chelsea for their compassionate marking of the Hillsborough anniversary during our fixture at the weekend.
“As ever, the overwhelming majority of those present at Anfield ensured the occasion was a fitting tribute. Regrettably, however, a smoke device was thrown into the away section during the second half and we are actively working with Merseyside Police to investigate the matter. Any person found to have committed this offence will be banned from our ground.
“The club is also concerned about a chant from some of our fans, specifically referencing Chelsea, as inappropriate and offensive. We would urge all Liverpool supporters to respect each other and stop such chants as they do not reflect the inclusivity that the club stands for. As a proud member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, we are committed to LGBT equality across all areas of the club and have contacted them and our own affiliated LBGT group Kop Outs for further support.”
-Liverpool spokesperson; source: F365
A few hours later, Chelsea released an official response as well, welcoming Liverpool’s statement of intent on both accounts.
It’s good to see both clubs acknowledging and responding to these issues and incidents, which come on the heels of a group of Chelsea fans chanting racist abuse against Mohamed Salah as well as another group racially abusing a fellow fan in the stands in Prague.
There’s a lot of work to be done to make this world a better place, within football and without. We mustn’t be discouraged by the magnitude of this task ahead of us.
@LFC calling out homophobia from their own supporters towards Chelsea fans chanting “Chelsea Rent boys”. They are also actively working with the police regarding the smoke device thrown at our supporters. @ChelseaFC @ChelseaPride_ #chelseatogether @kickitout pic.twitter.com/obAHxMYJ5p— ChelseaTogether (@TogetherChelsea) April 16, 2019