It was supposed to be a day of unity and the start of a new toned down rivalry between English soccer’s two greatest ever clubs. And, for the most part, it was, up until the end of the match when fans from both clubs began to chant the songs, which had been feared all week.
Manchester United supporters will insist that they were provoked by exiting Liverpool fans who made airplane gestures in reference to the 1958 Munich air disaster, which killed 23 people. It is also likely that United fans will be accused of starting chants that relate to disasters at Heysel and Hillsborough, which saw dozens die at each.
Either way, both sets of supporters should be ashamed. Before kick off, each team commemorated the 96 people who died in the Sheffield stadium with their tracksuits adorned by the number of dead who perished that day, whilst the side’s captains, Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs, released the same amount of balloons.
But, after the feisty encounter, which United ultimately won 2-1 thanks to a late Robin van Persie penalty, there was still a feeling of animosity in the air between the fans. Decisions seemed to favor the Manchester club especially when Jonjo Shelvey was sent-off late in the first-half.
However, this does not condone the Twitter attacks which then commenced on the match’s referee Mark Halsey, which saw him receive abuse that mocked the throat cancer he survived in 2009. A supposedly proud day for British soccer was instantly ruined and leaves us pondering, “Where can it go from here?”