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GUARDIAN – FA’s Hillsborough apology ‘is not good enough’, says family group

• FA releases statement that is criticised by victims’ families• David Bernstein later apologises for organisation’s roleThe Football Association was accused on Thursday of failing to fully acknowledge the extent of its role in the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago, before its chairman, David Bernstein, later made a “full and unreserved apology”.The FA, which authorised the staging of the FA Cup semi-final in April 1989 despite the ground not having a valid safety certificate, was initially criticised for the slowness of its response following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report on Wednesday. When a statement did appear on Thursday morning, it registered “deep and ongoing sadness” at the disaster and “profound sympathy” for the victims and their families, but there was no apology.That was criticised by representatives of the victims’ families and around four hours later Bernstein released his own statement, in which he did apologise for the organisation’s role. “We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected,” Bernstein said. “This fixture was played in the FA’s own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the city of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club.”The FA said Bernstein had always planned to make his own statement in addition to the one released earlier in the day. But Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said Bernstein’s apology was not enough. “They have a lot to answer for and they were getting away scot-free. They finally apologised today on the radio. But the apology is not good enough.”The report by the panel also revealed the extent to which warnings from a serious crush at the ground in 1988 when Liverpool and Nottingham Forest had also met in the semi-final of the FA Cup were ignored. When the FA invited Hillsborough to host a repeat of the clash at the same stage of the competition the following year, it did not raise the issue of crowd safety or the lack of an up-to-date safety certificate.The FA had stopped using Hillsborough as a semi-final venue in 1981 after a serious crush during a match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but reinstated it in 1987. Despite a series of modifications to the ground and to the terracing at the Leppings Lane end, no new safety certificates were issued.According to documents released by the inquiry, one supporter wrote to the FA in 1988 to describe how fans were forced against the fences at the front of the terrace, with collapsing and fainting. “After the match we all vowed to never enter the Leppings Lane end again. As far as I’m concerned, when there is a large crowd entering that part of the ground, it will always be a death trap.” Another fan wrote to protest “in the strongest possible terms” against the “disgraceful overcrowding”.But South Yorkshire police reported no problems and Sheffield Wednesday said the match went “extremely smoothly”. The FA could find no record of the fan’s letter when asked in 1989.Despite the problems, the 1989 exchange of letters between Sheffield Wednesday and the FA – also released among 450,000 pages of documents – does not mention crowd safety.The FA, in a letter from the competition secretary Stephen Clarke, wrote to all the grounds that could be selected as semi-final venues in February of 1989. He made no mention of safety procedures, other to enquire whether fences were in place to prevent fans entering the pitch.In a letter confirming the selection, Clarke added: “All parts of the ground must be allocated entirely for the two competing Clubs with the exception of the exception of Directors Box, which will be controlled by this Office.”In his later witness statement in the wake of the disaster Clarke explained that “the FA’s policy is leave the staging clubs to deal with the organisation required”.”They are generally familiar with what is needed for these matches and also have the advantage of the contacts with the police which are always needed for these occasions,” he said.”I was in touch with Mr Mackrell [the Sheffield Wednesday secretary] from time to time but basically my job was to ensure that the FA received the appropriate number of tickets and that they were appropriately distributed as required.”Ahead of the publication of Lord Justice Taylor’s interim report, which laid the majority of the blame at the door of the police but also criticised Sheffield Wednesday and the council, its lawyers advised that it “went without saying the FA should not make any admissions on liability”.Others, including Sheffield Wednesday, the Sun and South Yorkshire police, also apologised for their parts in the tragedy and the subsequent cover-up. However, Aspinall said they came too late: “An apology will never make up for the pain and loss we’ve lived for 23 years. It can never make up for what they’ve put us through and what they’ve put our city through.”Hillsborough disasterThe FALiverpoolOwen Gibsonguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – FA’s Hillsborough apology ‘is not good enough’, says family group

• FA releases statement that is criticised by victims’ families• David Bernstein later apologises for organisation’s roleThe Football Association was accused on Thursday of failing to fully acknowledge the extent of its role in the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago, before its chairman, David Bernstein, later made a “full and unreserved apology”.The FA, which authorised the staging of the FA Cup semi-final in April 1989 despite the ground not having a valid safety certificate, was initially criticised for the slowness of its response following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report on Wednesday. When a statement did appear on Thursday morning, it registered “deep and ongoing sadness” at the disaster and “profound sympathy” for the victims and their families, but there was no apology.That was criticised by representatives of the victims’ families and around four hours later Bernstein released his own statement, in which he did apologise for the organisation’s role. “We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected,” Bernstein said. “This fixture was played in the FA’s own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the city of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club.”The FA said Bernstein had always planned to make his own statement in addition to the one released earlier in the day. But Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said Bernstein’s apology was not enough. “They have a lot to answer for and they were getting away scot-free. They finally apologised today on the radio. But the apology is not good enough.”The report by the panel also revealed the extent to which warnings from a serious crush at the ground in 1988 when Liverpool and Nottingham Forest had also met in the semi-final of the FA Cup were ignored. When the FA invited Hillsborough to host a repeat of the clash at the same stage of the competition the following year, it did not raise the issue of crowd safety or the lack of an up-to-date safety certificate.The FA had stopped using Hillsborough as a semi-final venue in 1981 after a serious crush during a match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but reinstated it in 1987. Despite a series of modifications to the ground and to the terracing at the Leppings Lane end, no new safety certificates were issued.According to documents released by the inquiry, one supporter wrote to the FA in 1988 to describe how fans were forced against the fences at the front of the terrace, with collapsing and fainting. “After the match we all vowed to never enter the Leppings Lane end again. As far as I’m concerned, when there is a large crowd entering that part of the ground, it will always be a death trap.” Another fan wrote to protest “in the strongest possible terms” against the “disgraceful overcrowding”.But South Yorkshire police reported no problems and Sheffield Wednesday said the match went “extremely smoothly”. The FA could find no record of the fan’s letter when asked in 1989.Despite the problems, the 1989 exchange of letters between Sheffield Wednesday and the FA – also released among 450,000 pages of documents – does not mention crowd safety.The FA, in a letter from the competition secretary Stephen Clarke, wrote to all the grounds that could be selected as semi-final venues in February of 1989. He made no mention of safety procedures, other to enquire whether fences were in place to prevent fans entering the pitch.In a letter confirming the selection, Clarke added: “All parts of the ground must be allocated entirely for the two competing Clubs with the exception of the exception of Directors Box, which will be controlled by this Office.”In his later witness statement in the wake of the disaster Clarke explained that “the FA’s policy is leave the staging clubs to deal with the organisation required”.”They are generally familiar with what is needed for these matches and also have the advantage of the contacts with the police which are always needed for these occasions,” he said.”I was in touch with Mr Mackrell [the Sheffield Wednesday secretary] from time to time but basically my job was to ensure that the FA received the appropriate number of tickets and that they were appropriately distributed as required.”Ahead of the publication of Lord Justice Taylor’s interim report, which laid the majority of the blame at the door of the police but also criticised Sheffield Wednesday and the council, its lawyers advised that it “went without saying the FA should not make any admissions on liability”.Others, including Sheffield Wednesday, the Sun and South Yorkshire police, also apologised for their parts in the tragedy and the subsequent cover-up. However, Aspinall said they came too late: “An apology will never make up for the pain and loss we’ve lived for 23 years. It can never make up for what they’ve put us through and what they’ve put our city through.”Hillsborough disasterThe FALiverpoolOwen Gibsonguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Ashley Cole injury fears heighten as defender cuts short England training session

Ashley Cole remains a doubt ahead of England’s Euro 2012 opener against France, after the defender only managed to play a minimal role in today’s open training session. Struggling: England’s Ashley Cole (Picture: Getty Images) The Chelsea left-back, who was absent from a civic reception in Krakow city centre last night, lasted just 15 minutes of the practise session which took place in front of 3,000 invited guests. He then left the field with John Terry, who is also struggling to be fit for Monday’s game against Les Bleus, and joined Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Theo Walcott, James Milner, Scott Parker and Joleon Lescott for a pre-planned session in the pool and gym. Open training: England’s Steven Gerrard with manager Roy Hodgson (Picture: PA) The Football Association claimed the defender missed last night’s meeting with the Mayor of Krakow because he was ‘resting’, although suggestion remained that Cole was laid low with a stomach bug. Later today, the England squad will split into two groups, with six members, including Wayne Rooney and Hart, due to travel to Auschwitz along with manager Roy Hodgson and FA chairman David Bernstein, while the remainder will tour Oskar Schindler’s factory, reinforcing England’s commitment to the local area.

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Roy Hodgson set to become England manager as FA call off hunt for Harry

Roy Hodgson is set to lead England into Euro 2012 after the West Brom manager emerged as the leading contender for the job. Roy Hodgson looks set to become the next England manager (Picture: AFP) Nearly three months after Fabio Capello quit the post, the Football Association confirmed they will hold talks with the 64-year-old this week as they look to finalise their plans for this summer’s finals. The choice of Hodgson is a surprise because Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp had been thought to be the only name on the FA’s shortlist since Capello quit. Harry Redknapp had been tipped for the job (Picture: EPA) But FA chairman David Bernstein said: ‘Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set out after Fabio’s departure.’ Hodgson has transformed the fortunes of West Brom since taking over at The Hawthorns 15 months ago. It comes after an ill-fated spell at Liverpool, where he was sacked after 191 days in charge. But the fact he has substantial international experience after a successful spell with Switzerland appeals to the FA, as does the fact his contract runs out this summer – meaning no compensation will have to be paid.A West Brom statement said: ‘Roy has expressed a desire to explore this opportunity and the club have granted him permission to speak to the FA.’

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