Friday, February 23, 2007

Lessons Not Learned

I've been away with work for a few days so not been able to blog but I feel the need to rant now.

Earlier this week Manchester United played away to Lille in the Champions League. Not my favourite team, not my favourite competition, but something serious happened that needs commenting on.

Some how or another a crush developed in the stand that housed the United fans, some of them became crushed against the perimeter fence and tried to escape serious injury, or worse, by climbing over the fence on to the pitch. The reaction of the police was to treat it as a riot and fired tear gas in to the stand.

The exact circumstances of it are under investigation by UEFA, but what ever the cause, the fact that it happened and the reaction of the police were utterly inexcuseable. The Hillsborough disaster should have taught everyone, in this country or abroad, the dangers of crumbling stadiums, heavy handed policing and perimeter fencing. 96 people died on that sunny afternoon in South Yorkshire and 730 were injured, I remember watching it on the tv, aged just 10. It still makes me angry today reading about it, the missing crush barrier, the break down in crowd control outside the ground, the inadequate turnstiles, the open exit gate, the list of incompetence and negligence could go on for ever. It did though create a fundamental shift in how police behaved and how football fans were treated. Everything was swepted away and it is not possible to under estimate the fall out.

So the fact that anything like it has been allowed to happen again is staggering and it is difficult to describe just how angry I am about this.

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