Rivalries & Hatred

There was always something that left an uneasy feeling in the pit of the stomach about the post-Olympic craze for slating ‘football’ for its attitudes and behaviour, and there is still discomfort whenever anyone starts to discuss ‘decency’ with regard to the moral vacuum that is a professional sport-cum-business. Last night at Goodison Park, however, we saw a perfectly pitched tribute to the dead of Hillsborough which left barely a dry eye in the house and reminded all watching that if this game and its institutions can be described as having a soul, then that soul is worth hanging onto. The fulsome tribute from Everton FC was a timely reminder that we are capable of setting aside our tribalism out of respect to the dead and that yes, there are some things in life that are more important than our allegiances, loves and hates. Perhaps, though, this was merely the hors d’oeuvre ahead of the main event on the subject of whether attitudes have changed with regard to English football’s worst disaster. This weekend, all eyes will be fixed on Anfield as Liverpool play Manchester United in a fixture that will, whether rightly or wrongly, be treated as a litmus test for whether supporters can be entrusted with the task of behaving themselves under such a glare. The reaction to the behaviour of some during Saturdays match between Manchester...

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