It has been barely a month since a jury found the 96 Liverpudians who were killed in a crush in Hillsborough in 1989 as unlawfully killed when two new incidents in British football involving fans have reared the ugly side of the beautiful game.
Last May 11, the Manchester United bus that was hammered and pelted with missiles as they made their way to West Ham’s Upton Park for their final match of the Premier League season. Also during that match, a fan got on the pitch and approached United goalkeeper David De Gea before stewards led the former away.
And second was last May 22 when Hibernian fans invaded the pitch following their team’s Scottish Cup Final win over Rangers. Mounted police took to the pitch following the pitch invasion to prevent any further incidents between the two sets of fans. But it is reported that Rangers players and fans were assaulted while the goal and the pitch was destroyed by celebrating fans. The violence and disorderly conduct have been decried not only by the Scottish Football Association but by international observers as the incident harkens back to a darker and more violent age.
In both the West Ham and Hibernian incidents, there was a glaring lack of security for one team and hand washing of any wrongdoing by one team’s officials. A few arrests have been made although the investigations aren’t over.
In the midst of the pitch invasion, Hibs manager, Alan Stubbs was interviewed on BBC and he said that while he understood what the fans did, he does not condone it as it spoiled what should have been a great celebration after a 114-year Scottish Cup drought.
Hibernian released an official statement at 5:44pm on the 23rd of May:
A Police-led criminal inquiry is underway into events at Hibernian’s historic Scottish Cup win over Rangers at the weekend. The Scottish FA has also launched its own Independent Commission. The Club welcomes the announcement of the Commission which should have the widest ranging terms of reference.
The Independent Commission is to look into all aspects of the staging and management of the Final. That is right and proper. Everyone involved will want to know what lessons can be learned.
Hibernian FC will co-operate fully with the Independent Commission in every way it can and the Commission must be allowed to run its course and reach its own conclusions without fear or favour.
Hibernian FC today reiterated:
-That the Club is sorry that a number of Hibernian supporters invaded the pitch. Whilst emotions were running high, the Club cannot condone supporters coming onto the field of play.
-That the Club will co-operate fully with all of the relevant authorities to identify supporters involved in behaviour which tarnishes the good name of Hibernian FC.
-In particular, the Club will do everything in its power to bring to book any Hibernian supporters found to have been involved in the most serious allegations of assault – including assaults on the staff or players of Rangers FC
-The Club will take the strongest possible sanctions against any supporters involved in criminal activity or unacceptable behaviour
Chairman Rod Petrie said: “It is now clear from various sources that supporters being on the pitch at the end of the match led to acts of violence and disorder.
I condemn and the Club condemns all of the violence and unacceptable conduct perpetrated on the pitch and elsewhere and in the margins of the match at Hampden. There is absolutely no place for it in the game of football.
"Hibernian will do all that it can to support the criminal investigations to ensure that those who have transgressed face the consequences of their actions.”
There must be a lot of pent-up frustration and anger in the world today that it is manifesting itself in the worst way possible. But scenes like these cannot and should not be tolerated.