Friday, September 14, 2012

A sense of perspective

So, I was going to write something about the results of the Football Supporters' Federation's 2012 National Fans' Survey - about the headline stat that more than 90% of fans feel ticket prices are too high, about the fact that three-quarters of respondents would welcome a salary cap, about the frequently costly havoc that the short-notice rescheduling of games to suit broadcasters wreaks on supporters' best-laid plans, about the unsettling fact that nearly a fifth of respondents have witnessed racist and homophobic abuse in grounds in the last year.

But then along came Wednesday's news about Hillsborough - an unequivocal and damning if horribly overdue indictment of all involved except the much vilified Liverpool supporters, who were exonerated of all blame - to put it all into perspective. Those supporters were the victims of prejudice and ultimately of an extraordinary cover-up perpetrated by everyone from the emergency services to the press. 23 years on, there may still be problems within the beautiful game - most obviously, the FSF survey underlines that fans' loyalty is often taken for granted and milked for all it's worth - but it's safe to say that things have most definitely changed for the better. Going to watch football in the UK may often be a sterile experience, but at least it's not a downright dangerous one.

(PS Now that it's been established that events that day in April 1989 were preventable and that lives could have been saved, can people please stop calling it a "disaster"?)

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