Hillsborough victims demand apology from FA
LONDON - Agence France-PresseRelatives of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster called yesterday for the English Football Association (FA) to apologize after a landmark probe found police tried to blame fans for the 1989 tragedy.
Trevor Hicks, the chair of the Hillsborough families support group, said the FA should never have awarded the FA Cup semifinal to Hillsborough because it did not have a valid safety certificate at the time.
The FA yesterday issued a statement welcoming the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report but offered no apology over the events at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 23 years ago.
The owners of Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday, have apologized and Hicks said the FA should follow the Championship club’s example.
“Yes, they should -- the ground didn’t have a safety certificate,” he told BBC radio.
Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the families of the dead and injured following the publication of the report on Wednesday, saying they had suffered a “double injustice”. The report found that senior police officers had mounted a concerted campaign to cover up failings in the worst disaster in British football history.
In the most heart-rending of the findings, the panel found that dozens of lives could have been saved if the emergency services’ response had been better coordinated.
The FA said in its statement: “Having thoroughly reviewed yesterday’s report in full, The Football Association would like to commend the Hillsborough Independent Panel for their exhaustive and professional work.
“It is also important that The FA recognises the tireless commitment shown by so many, particularly the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
“The FA reiterates its deep and ongoing sadness at the dreadful events that unfolded on 15 April 1989.
“The organisation’s thoughts at this time remains with the families of all those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances, as well as everyone connected with the City of Liverpool.
“For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain, and we have profound sympathy for this.” The statement went on to say that “the FA and English football has changed immeasurably, and has learnt many lessons in the last 23 years”.
Relatives of the victims of the disaster have vowed to push for those responsible to face justice.
Liverpool’s manager at the time of the disaster, Kenny Dalglish, who attended a vigil in the city on Wednesday, said on Twitter: “Very positive outcome. 23 years waiting for the truth next step justice.”