Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler has been widely criticized after he appeared to link the Hillsborough disaster to “other hooligan issues” while speaking on BBC Radio.
A total of 97 supporters died following the crush which occurred at Sheffield Wednesday Stadium after attending an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
The 1990 Taylor Report investigating the tragedy ruled that a failure of crowd control by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) was the main reason for the deaths, while a coroner’s inquest between 2014 and 2016 ruled that those supporters had been unlawfully killed and that the behavior of the fans did not make sense. contributing to the disaster.
This contrasted with stories from SYP, which criticized Liverpool supporters for arriving late, without tickets or intoxicated, which was refuted in inquests which highlighted how the disaster was a failure of services emergency – unrelated to the football charges. vandalism.
Tyler’s words on the Today show, therefore, sparked an immediate reaction as he commented that “football was in a bit of a crisis at that time. We weren’t that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan issues.
“It was a very difficult time for the game in general.”
Liverpool City Area Mayor Steve Rotheram called Tyler’s comments “extremely rude” and demanded a retraction. “Even now, people whose careers are built on football are still spreading these dirty slanders. I hope there will be a pointed apology,” he wrote on Twitter.
Tyler had spoken before the start of the 30th Premier League season, which begins on Friday evening.
Liverpool Wavertree Labor MP Paula Barker also accused BBC Radio to allow Tyler to “perpetuate these lies”, while local journalists have also required apologies and criticized the lack of challenge to his “misrepresentation”.
The BBC has since released a short statement apologizing for choosing not to “vigorously challenge” Tyler’s words.
The 76-year-old also attempted to explain what he was trying to say, suggesting that the two issues relating to Hillsborough and the hooligans were different types of incidents that English football as a whole was trying to deal with at the time. from the start of the Premier League.
A statement later released by Tyler read:
“This morning, in discussing various crises that football faced 30 years ago, I brought up a few examples, including the Hillsborough disaster and also the match hooliganism controversy. These are two separate issues. There is no connection between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that, and I wasn’t implying there was. I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for any misunderstanding.
Earlier this summer, Tyler had to issue an on-air apology for saying Ukraine international Heorhiy Bushchan would have to ‘fight through’ a game after picking up an injury, amid Russia’s invasion of the goalkeeper nation.