European football championship, Wales and rock music

This music video says about itself:

Manic Street Preachers – Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) [Official Video]

12 May 2016

The Manics‘ Wales Euro 2016 anthem ‘Together Stronger (C’mon Wales)’s is out now.

By James Walsh in Britain:

Naff, but catchy

Tuesday 24th May 2016

It’s Euro football championship time again and, true to past form, anthems are being penned that are so bad they’re good, writes James Walsh

THE MANIC Street Preachers have written a song about the EU referendum. A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with audio of the band’s favourite Jacques Delors’ speeches, which they hope will inspire voters to turn out and keep Wales in the European Union.

No they haven’t, I’m being silly. Instead, their song is about the Welsh football team, who are playing in the European Championships.

A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with commentary of the team’s past sporting failures, which they hope will inspire the team to glory this summer.

The song is called Together Stronger (C’mon Wales), so you can see where the confusion came from.

It is extremely naff but quite catchy. With this, the Manics join a proud tradition of indie bands writing football songs destined to become strange curiosities to culture-miners of the future.

Who could forget Echo & The Bunny Men teaming up with Space, Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls for 1998’s (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World? Well, Space singer Tommy, for one, who didn’t turn up to the recording but does appear in the video.

Or Scotland’s Del Dmitri, with the self-fulfilling prophecy of calling their tournament song Don’t Come Home Too Soon?

True to tradition, Scotland departed after the group stages.

Embrace’s official England song from 2006, World At Your Feet, was so bad the FA declined to have an official song for the following World Cup.

The only band to get it right was New Order, because they’re New Order. World In Motion is a wonderful tune even with the involvement of Keith Allen, John Barnes rapping and the line “We’re playing for England. We’re playing the song.”

Ten years ago, the London-based radio station XFM launched a competition for listeners to write their official song for Euro 2004.

The winner was a sub-Oasis lady anthem with the slightly sinister, Skippy title of Born in England, which would have come as a surprise to the team’s midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Canada.

Much more intriguing was the rejected song with the sensible name, European Championships 2004, which was a Streets-style lo-fi rap with the brilliant chorus: “The England fans and the England team abiding by the law.”

Which sure beats The Lightning Seeds.

England haven’t announced an official song for this summer at the time of writing but the bookies are bandying around terrifying names like Fabians and The Kaiser Chiefs, the latter once memorably described as being “like a shit Blur in hats.”

Meanwhile the Welsh are overflowing with talent. As well as the Manics’ cheesy official number, fans can also enjoy the return of the Super Furry Animals.

The band, who once sponsored Cardiff City, have released a football-themed song as their first single in seven years “to bring colour and hope to Europe’s footballing, and semi- or non-footballing, nations,” according to the press release.

“Sing Bong isn’t a song of victory or defeat but a beacon of faith to return to when your best centre-forward gets sent off, or it rains at your festival. Keep it in a safe place for a time when you will need it.”

I’ve stuck my copy behind glass and will break it in an emergency, such as Boris Johnson becoming prime minister. It’s a strangely hypnotic communal disco number, with lyrics to the minimum, and in Welsh.

In the video, the band are shown eternally looped playing pick-me-up. It is nonsensical, profound and warmly internationalist.

Perhaps it’s secretly about the EU referendum.

Hillsborough film, on English football fans’ deaths

This video from Britain says about itself:

EPSN/BBC : Hillsborough #JFT96

27 April 2016

Finally aired in the UK at 9pm on BBC 2 on Sunday May 8th 2016, without much additional material.

“American sports network ESPN, as part of its 30 for 30 series of sports films (under a new “Soccer Stories” subdivision), aired the documentary Hillsborough as a co-production with the BBC. Directed by Daniel Gordon, the 2-hour film chronicles the disaster, the investigations, and their lingering effects; it also included interviews with survivors, victims’ relatives, police officers and investigators. Hillsborough aired the first time on 15 April 2014, the 25th anniversary of the disaster. The documentary was unable to be shown in Great Britain upon initial release due to the 2012 High Court inquest still being in progress and the UK’s jury tampering laws; the documentary contains previously unreleased security camera footage from the stadium the day of the disaster. However, upon the inquest verdict the BBC announced they would air the documentary, with additional footage from the inquest and final verdict.”

Source: here.

A version of this documentary will be on BBC 2 at 9pm on Sunday May 8th 2016. It will be about 15 minutes longer and feature the inquest verdicts and proceedings.

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

Hillsborough: A powerful and moving account of Britain’s worst sporting disaster

14 May 2016

Hillsborough, aired on UK television for the first time on May 8, examines the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday’s football stadium, a neutral site, on April 15, 1989.

It details how those responsible, above all the South Yorkshire Police, covered up their role for decades—in collusion with successive Conservative and Labour governments. They concocted a pack of lies, blaming the actions of football supporters for the tragedy they caused.

On April 26, 2016, a full 27 years later, an inquest concluded that the 96 were unlawfully killed. They were crushed to death after Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the officer in command, gave the order to open Exit Gate C at 2.52 pm, just before the 3 pm kick-off. Hundreds of fans then entered an unpoliced tunnel leading directly into two already dangerously overcrowded and enclosed pens.

Hillsborough, produced and directed by British documentary film director Daniel Gordon, was originally shown in the United States two years ago. It could not be shown in the UK due to the just concluded two-year inquest into the deaths—the longest jury case in British legal history. The factual consultant on the film, Professor Phil Scraton, told the Liverpool Echo, “It was about to go into cinemas when the coroner [Sir John Goldring] placed an embargo on films and books about Hillsborough.”

BBC Two aired it on May 8, with public screenings in Sheffield, the city where the disaster took place, and Liverpool.

The documentary reconstructs key events and includes harrowing footage of the crush and its aftermath, interviews with family members, survivors and police officers on duty. Scraton narrates. He played an important role in uncovering the truth about Hillsborough. He was the lead author of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, whose 2012 report exonerated the Liverpool supporters of all blame. This led to the quashing of the original flawed inquest verdicts and the setting up of the new inquest.

The film explains the circumstances in which Chief Superintendent Duckenfield was placed in charge of operations at Hillsborough after a scandal led to the removal of his more experienced predecessor. Duckenfield had never been in charge of such a major policing operation and did not even know the name of the other club involved in the game in a pre-match briefing.

The film documents the poor layout and dilapidated state of the stadium. Prior to entering, thousands of Liverpool fans were herded into a small concourse at the Leppings Lane end. If all the fans had gone through the handful of turnstiles to enter the ground, it would have required the game to be delayed by 40 minutes. But no delay was ever considered by the police and the Football Association (FA).

Duckenfield was in the police control box looking directly over the Leppings Lane end and the seriously overcrowded central pens. Consulting with a police officer on the packed concourse, he made the catastrophic decision to open a main exit gate. The match kicked off at 3pm, with the fans already having been crushed.

The film shows fans trying to escape onto the pitch and police telling them to stop. There are graphic scenes of crushed bodies, with fans desperate to get out of the fenced-off terraces. Some are pulled up onto the elevated rear terrace behind. Others manage to climb the fences onto the pitch. Other fans desperately try to rip the fence open.

Describing people crushed against the main fence, one traumatised police officer states, “It was like looking at fish in a trawler net.” One of the police officers opens a gate in the adjoining pen, recalling, “I couldn’t understand why these people weren’t moving towards me. There’s actually six foot high spiked railing fences between the pens.”

One of the survivors managed, with the help of fans, to get out of the pen. Later, leaving the ground he tells how he saw the body of his father lying dead on the floor on a concourse area with around 10 other bodies.

The police control box is visited by FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly. Scraton states, “Duckenfield tells him there has been an inrush of Liverpool fans forcing entry through an exit gate into the stadium and down the tunnel. At that moment, the person who is ultimately responsible for the hiring of the stadium is told unequivocally that Liverpool fans have caused the disaster by violent access to the ground.”

Likewise, a BBC football commentator tells millions watching on television that a “gate was broken, people without tickets got in and were overcrowding the people with tickets and that’s why the crush occurred.”

“The lie becomes defining,” states Scraton.

No emergency rescue plan is enacted. Ambulances are seen backed up on Penistone Road outside the stadium, unable to go anywhere. The now infamous scene of police officers standing in a cordon across the middle of the pitch, doing nothing to help, is shown. The majority of people involved in the rescue were the fans who managed to get onto the pitch.

A few ambulances manage to get some injured fans to a local hospital, where 12 are pronounced dead. The other deceased were taken into the gymnasium at the stadium.

One of the police officers recalls that when asked what they should put in their police pocket books, a chief inspector replied, “You don’t need to put anything [in] your pocket books. It will be all be covered in the disaster log.”

On the basis of the lie that “drunk” Liverpool fans broke into the ground and caused the deaths, the coroner, Dr Stefan Popper takes the unprecedented decision to take blood alcohol level of all the victims, including the children.

A harrowing reconstruction is shown of relatives, some having driven for hours from Liverpool, waiting in a nearby Boys Club. After identifying the bodies, the families were not allowed to touch the bodies of their loved one. Family members are asked if they had recently drunk alcohol and if those who died drank alcohol.

The following day Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, her press secretary Bernard Ingham and local, ultra-right Tory MP Irvine Patnick are taken to the stadium by Peter Wright, the South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable and Duckenfield. Scraton notes that Ingham wrote, “What we learned on the spot is that a tanked up mob had actually caused the disaster.”

Rupert Murdoch's Sun lies on Hillsborough

The documentary forensically exposes this pack of lies, disseminated by right-wing newspapers, in the words of The Sun, as “The Truth.”

The Labour government which came to office in 1997 refused to call a new public inquiry, despite being presented with new evidence obtained by Scraton, that original statements by police officers had been significantly altered by South Yorkshire Police to delete any criticism of their role.

At the 20th memorial service for the 96 at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, the film shows a speech by leading Labour politician Andy Burnham being interrupted by fans shouting “Justice for the 96!” Burnham looks sick—like a deer caught in headlights.

Only then did Labour establish the Hillsborough Independent Panel, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the events. Just a few years earlier, then Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had ruled out any further inquiry, asking, “What is the point?”

The survivors of the disaster and family members never gave up fighting for justice. Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, is filmed speaking after the jury recorded the verdicts of unlawful killings. She notes that up to the very end, South Yorkshire Police were still “prepared to live with the lies and still sell them in the courts.”

Operation Resolve, a police investigation to establish whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable for their role in the disaster put into place after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, has not charged or even arrested a single person after more than three years.

Those with access to the BBC’s iPlayer can view the documentary here for the next 24 days.

The film is also available here.

The author also recommends:

Hillsborough inquest: Ninety-six UK football supporters unlawfully killed
[28 April 2016]

The Hillsborough disaster as it unfolded
[28 April 2016]

Report on Hillsborough football disaster exposes “biggest cover-up in British legal history”
[15 September 2016]

British Hillsborough football tragedy and injustice

This video from England says about itself:

Margaret Aspinall Accepts Pride Of Britain Award On Behalf of The Hillsborough Families

8 October 2013

See HFSG [Hillsborough Family Support Group]’s Margaret Aspinall accepting a thoroughly deserved award from John Bishop, John Barnes, Jamie Carragher & King Kenny Dalglish.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Hillsborough fight hero calls for level justice playing field

Thursday 12th April 2016

A MOTHER who lost her son in the Hillsborough disaster called yesterday for a “level playing field” for bereaved families in legal fights against the police.

In an emotional address to MPs, Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, said it was a “disgrace” that South Yorkshire Police had public funding for legal representation during inquests while victims’ families did not.

She attacked cuts to legal aid and also called for the second stage of the Leveson inquiry — into the relationship between the police and the press — to go ahead.

Attacking cuts to legal aid, the Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman said: “Everybody is entitled to legal aid. [The current situation], to me, has got to change.

“The police cannot be funded the way South Yorkshire were funded.

“To go back into court for two years … and for them to be funded again to come out with the same lies again is a disgrace.

“At least give the victims a level playing field.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was in the committee room at Portcullis House to hear Ms Aspinall describe her experience of the fight for justice by the families of the 96 victims.

She broke down in tears as she said she had had to accept an insurance payout of little more than £1,000 after her son’s death because she had been told she had to raise £3,000 to pay for a barrister for the original inquest in 1990.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “We all let them down. No politician emerges with any credit because we all let them down.”

But he unveiled a package of measures to “rebalance” the justice system.

Labour have pledged that families seeking justice will be able to access legal aid in future, while abolishing the time limit on the period after leaving the police force during which retired officers can be investigated for misconduct.

Dutch anti-Semitic PSV football supporters

This video says about itself:

Auschwitz Chants ‘Not Anti-Semitic’: ADL slams Poland for allowing anti-Jewish football fan abuse

15 January 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has called on the authorities in the Polish city of Poznan to reverse a decision not to bring charges against fans of local football club Lech Poznan who were heard making anti-Semitic chants during a match against Widzew Lodz in September. The local prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges after deciding the chants were directed at Lodz players, and not intended to harm Jews in general. But ADL chief Abe Foxman disagrees.

It turns out, according to Dutch broadcasing organisation Omroep Brabant today, that this week fans of Dutch football club PSV in a McDonald’s restaurant sang an anti-Semitic song. Translation: ‘My father was a commando, My mother was in the SS, Together they burned Jews, Because Jews burn best’.

Police are thinking about where there will be a prosecution or not.

British Hillsborough football fans’ deaths, Thatcher, Murdoch guilty

This video from Britain says about itself:

‘We told you The Sun lied‘: Hillsborough 96 families

27 April 2016

As the Murdoch press’ front pages today ignore the Hillsborough verdict,

including the Times, supposedly the ‘quality’ paper of the Murdoch empire

the families of the 96 said yesterday ‘we told you they lied’, ‘they’ being The Sun, the government and the police. The families believe the lies deprived the memory of their loved ones, who were portrayed as scum, of justice. That justice came yesterday after 27 years of campaigning and a two-year inquest with more than 800 witnesses that was the longest jury hearing in British legal history. The Sun apologised for their 1989 infamous editorial ‘The Truth’ in 2012. As did BoJo [London Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson] in the same year for his 2004 editorial in the Spectator. The piece shows how ingrained the image of Liverpool fans as ‘tanked-up yobs’, coined by Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher‘s former press secretary, was in the establishment:

“Liverpool is a handsome city with a tribal sense of community. A combination of economic misfortune – its docks were, fundamentally, on the wrong side of England when Britain entered what is now the European Union – and an excessive predilection for welfarism have created a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche among many Liverpudlians. They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it.

Part of this flawed psychological state is that they cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance against the rest of society. The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident.”

That prevailing image of the victims could explain why it took so long to identify the real culprits, as Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police says “The Taylor Report way back in 1989, identified a lot of the failings, which have been confirmed in the hearing today.” Margaret Aspinall who lost her son James in the disaster focused on how much the truth was suppressed all these years and that ‘a lot of things that came out in the past few weeks I didn’t know myself.’

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Justice at last

CROWN Prosecution Service lawyers have the responsibility now to take appropriate action after the Hillsborough disaster inquest jury decisions.

While the families of the 96 dead Liverpool FC fans see the culmination of their determined campaign as “justice at last,” the Establishment’s stringing out of this process for 27 years amounts to justice delayed and frustrated.

Some campaigners have not lived to see this day. Senior police have put families through hell by using delaying tactics to deny an undeniable truth.

When senior police officers fail to carry out their duties, with fatal consequences, there must be a legal reckoning.

But the Hillsborough families were the victims of a conspiracy in which police, the Murdoch media and politicians fed each other lies to be repeated as widely as possible to give the false impression that the fans’ behaviour contributed to the tragedy.

Football fans were viewed by Margaret Thatcher’s government as savages to be penned in behind steel fences, preventing their evacuation during overcrowding.

They were traduced in Murdoch’s Scum [Sun] as being drunken yobbos, forcing their way onto the terraces, robbing the dead and urinating on police, thus contributing to a general image of savagery.

Scum editor Kelvin MacKenzie claimed that these allegations emanated from the police.

Perhaps the CPS should give thought to conspiracy charges being laid against those it believes may have engaged in joint enterprise to besmirch the names of 96 dead LFC supporters and their fellow fans.

A full 27 years after the event, the inquest into the Hillsborough disaster concluded that 96 Liverpool Football Club supporters, crushed to death on April 15, 1989, were unlawfully killed. The verdict in the longest jury case in British legal history vindicates the extraordinary campaign by the families, friends and supporters of those killed, injured and traumatized: here.

Hillsborough inquest: legal system a key part of establishment that failed families for years. The inquest delivered the basic justice people had waited 27 years for – but a detached judge and police repetition of old, putrid claims prolonged the nightmare: here.

British police, not football fans, guilty of Hillsborough deaths

This video from England says about itself:

Hillsborough Families sing after unlawful killing conclusion

26 April 2016

Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests have concluded.

The jury decided the match commander [Police] Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield’s actions amounted to “gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care to fans.

Families of the victims showed their relief outside court by singing the Liverpool football club anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone“.

From Who Ate All The Pies in Britain:

Justice At Long Last: Inquest Jury Rules 96 Liverpool Fans Were ‘Unlawfully Killed’ At Hillsborough In 1989

Chris Wright

26th, April 2016

It’s taken 27 long years of acute pain and withering strife, but today the inquests have concluded that 96 Liverpool fans were “unlawfully killed” at Hillsborough on 15th April, 1989.

The jurors determined that the police were guilty of gross negligence by a 7-2 majority, while also ruling that the behaviour of the Liverpool fans did not contribute to the deaths.

The news comes as especially blessed relief to the Hillsborough families and campaigners, who have been relentless in their pursuit of the truth ever since that tragic day. After almost 30 years of lies and smears, it’s over. It took far too long but they’ve finally scaled the mountain. Justice for the 96 at long, long last.

Now, as the world can finally move on, there’s one national newspaper which certainly owes the people of Liverpool an apology

Rupert Murdoch's Sun's lies on Hillsborough

Don’t hold your breath.

So, police were guilty, this decision says. However, police didn’t work in a vacuüm. They worked in a context of Margaret Thatcher‘s Conservative government, and of the establishment, including Rupert Murdoch and his Sun daily.

The British Crown Prosecution Service will now consider the evidence and decide whether any individual or organisation should face criminal prosecution. Margaret Thatcher is dead, and cannot be prosecuted any more. Some of her ministers are still alive.

Rupert Murdoch is still, sort of, ‘undead’. So, in theory, he might be prosecuted. However, he was not prosecuted for his phone hacking, his burglary, his warmongering, his bribing of police, etc. etc. either. So, unfortunately, I have to say ‘Don’t hold your breath’ as well.

Murdoch papers Sun and Times bury Hillsborough victims’ vindication on back pages: here.