Liverpool tribute to Hillsborough dead
LIVERPOOL - Agence France-Presse
Supporters observe a minute silence around 96 empty seats covers with Liverpool scarves in memory of the victims of Hillsborough before the start of the English FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday, April 12, 2014. AP PhotoLiverpool marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster with a solemn minute's silence before their Premier League home game with Manchester City on Sunday.
Shortly before kick-off on a sun-soaked afternoon, players and fans stood with their heads bowed in memory of the 96 Liverpool supporters killed in a crush during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989.
A mosaic bearing the words '96, 25 YEARS' was help up by fans in Anfield's iconic Kop stand. The silence was broken only by the drone of planes passing overhead and the clicks of fans' smartphone camera shutters.
The match was also preceded by a rendition of the Liverpool anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone', while former Liverepool and Manchester City players exchanged wreaths on the pitch.
Players from both teams wore black armbands during the key match.
In tribute to the victims of the tragedy, matches across England have been moved back by seven minutes this weekend, reflecting the moment the fateful match at Hillsborough was called off.
A memorial service is due to take place at Anfield on Tuesday, which will mark exactly 25 years since the tragedy occurred.
Fresh inquests into the deaths of those killed at Hillsborough opened recently in Warrington, near Liverpool, after a campaign led by families of the deceased prompted the publication of a damning independent report in 2012 that criticised the authorities' handling of the disaster.
The original coroner's verdicts of accidental death were subsequently quashed, and two investigations are under way after evidence emerged that police sought to deflect the blame for what happened onto the fans.
Liverpool's game against City is being billed as a Premier League title decider. Both sides know that they will be crowned champions if they win all of their remaining games.
Writing in the match-day programme, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expressed solidarity with the families of the Hillsborough victims.
"Due to the inquest being open I will not go into too much detail on this topic," he said.
"What I can say is that everyone at Liverpool Football Club is standing shoulder to shoulder with the families while they go through this very traumatic process and also at this time of reflection, with it being such a significant anniversary.
"When we fall silent at 1.36pm today our thoughts and prayers will be with the 96 supporters, watching us in the sky. They are our inspiration."