General view of the scoreboard during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match at Old Trafford. Alamy Stock Photo

Arrests made after tragedy chanting during Man United-Liverpool clash

The Football Association have vowed to liaise with police over the matter.

Updated at 16.50

TWO MANCHESTER United fans were arrested in connection with tragedy chanting during Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Greater Manchester Police is also trying to identify another United supporter after footage widely shared on social media footage appeared to show him allegedly engaging in tragedy chanting.

GMP announced it had made eight arrests in total at the game, including three Liverpool fans for possession of Class A drugs, an away supporter on suspicion of possession of a pyrotechnic, and two United fans for a racially aggravated public order offence and pitch encroachment respectively.

As well as the arrests, a 39-year-old man, George Fenning from Edinburgh, has been charged with possession of a Class B drug, possession of a pyrotechnic and throwing missiles and subsequently bailed.

“The arrests made were the result of us taking a proactive, zero-tolerance approach to ensure that genuine supporters and spectators were able to enjoy the match safely,” said Chief Inspector Jamie Collins, silver commander for the match.

“GMP can confirm that a 21-year-old and a 59-year-old man were arrested in connection with tragedy chanting.

“Incidents of tragedy chanting will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.

“We are also aware of footage circulating on social media of a Manchester United supporter engaging in tragedy chanting.

“No arrest has been made yet but GMP are working with both clubs to identify the individual in connection with this incident.

“We held a supporter group meeting with both sets of fans prior to the match and both groups agreed that tragedy chanting was totally unacceptable.

“GMP will clamp down on this and arrest those who engage in such behaviour, regardless of what team they support.

“I hope that these arrests will act as a deterrent to anyone attending future games.”

However, Peter Scarfe of the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance believes police have to take a wider approach to tragedy chanting.

In the middle of the second half of Sunday’s FA Cup tie — which United won 4-3 after extra time — a significant number of fans in the Stretford End were heard chanting ‘Murderers’, quickly followed by ‘Always the victims’ and the singing was clearly audible to the live television audience.

“It’s not getting better. The message is not getting through,” Scarfe told the PA news agency.

“It’s one or two arrests and being charged but when you have the Stretford End singing ‘Murderers’ and ‘Always the victims’, who do you target?

“We had Hillsborough survivors at the game and they have tried to report it to stewards and police but there are too many of them.

“I’ve become more hardened in my role but you see how painful it is to be continually called a murderer.”

United did not comment publicly but sources said the club were “fully supportive” of statements issued by The Football Association and GMP condemning tragedy chanting.

But Scarfe also believes clubs should be made responsible for their supporters.

“If you were to fine the clubs the money could go back into emotional support groups or awareness courses but it would then lower the allocation when they come to Anfield,” he added.

“So fans are not getting to go to away games and as it dwindles down there will be a banning order on them all.

“We don’t want that as a club, and neither will anyone else, because you want that banter between home and away fans.

“And I’m not saying there were not chants going the other way: there was one particular guy who started the Munich shout and he was told straight away to shut his mouth.

“Until we get our ducks in order we can’t expect others to do that same. It has to be zero tolerance to them.

“But what is going to happen in three weeks’ time when we play them again and Liverpool are playing to win the league?”

Press Association
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