April 22, 2009 |

Dear Mr. Cohen,

First off, let me say I hope that you have an enjoyable trip down to Baltimore this summer to watch the AC Milan and Chelsea game. It will be a great showcase of the city’s fantastic soccer fan base as well as its massive potential for future fixtures.

Secondly, why the hatred of Liverpool? I say Liverpool and not Liverpool Football Club because it is obvious that your blinding hatred encompasses all of its residents. When Hillsborough happened, red and blue came together across all affiliations as a city to mourn those that lost their lives. That is what Liverpool is. That is what Liverpool does.

So what is it that bothers you most then? The five European Cups? The eighteen Leagues? The fact that the last true breed of Chelsea fans died about 10 years ago to be replaced by Yankee fans? If you are looking to stake some sort of legitimacy for yourself and your now-famous club, you are not doing yourself or your squad any favors by choosing Hillsborough and Heysel as your platform to belittle a team steeped in history and accolades.

We can all appreciate controversial views. It’s great for ratings. Go right ahead and call us scallys or thieves. Make comments about missing hub caps. But by continuing in the passionate fashion that has become your trademark to pick at a wound that is as fresh today as it was twenty years ago, and one that elicits sympathy the soccer world over, it makes you a party of one – especially when this dogged adherence to a contentious and fallacious viewpoint is in the face of substantial evidence to the contrary. I can’t imagine a Chelsea FC that entertains or condones your views. Those that do are ordinarily found anonymously compounding their hateful rhetoric with poor grammar and bad spelling in chatrooms.

Hooliganism was a pandemic in the 80’s and we shouldn’t be so quick to forget that the Stamford Library wasn’t always the quite spot that it is now. So to point fingers in anyone’s direction when an entire website is set up dedicated to “the most notorious football hooligans in history” (Chelsea’s own Headhunters) is somewhat hypocritical.

The fact that Liverpool and its fans were at the heart of these two disasters is coincidental. Unfortunate and horrific, but coincidental. Highlighting that the game in Belgium went ahead in spite of the ground being largely considered unfit for a fixture of this magnitude (a similar complaint against Hillsborough) and that Juventus fans also battled police that same night for two hours to make a larger point about the unilateral nature of hooliganism is neither here nor there. Thirty nine people died. It’s a mark that’ll never wash off. And we know that.

As for Hillsborough and your comments in response to a listeners email regarding the Campaign for Justice, when the premise of an argument is so utterly unfounded, calculatingly callous and categorically untrue, it doesn’t even merit a thoughtful response. But those weighty and fact-based counter-arguments already seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Nineteen years ago, doing no better because you knew no better might have been forgivable. Twenty years on, and with new evidence in full light of day, it is not, and especially not when the damage that is being done to a new generation of soccer fans is potentially irreversible.

Fortunately, the British government has seen fit to make available all the disaster’s documents 10 years ahead of schedule. I hope when the dust settles it is different Steven Cohen behind the mic.

There is absolutely no shame in admitting that one is wrong. The shame is perpetuating a hateful and malicious untruth knowing full well that it is indeed untrue and in doing so warping fresh, impressionable minds. To proselytize in this manner is not only unethical, it is nefarious.

A good reporter spends as much time reading as he does talking so as to be able to provide accurate and educated, if not somewhat coloured, commentary. So, before all the new evidence comes to light, may I suggest you start with this. http://downloads.hfdinfo.com/4HFDContext-n-Consequences.pdf It’s a pretty comprehensive, non-partisan (much like the Taylor Report) document about the before, the during and the after of Hillsborough.

In short, do the right thing. Please stop the hate.


Darren A. Rudham

Chairman, LFC Box 21231 Supporters

Baltimore, MD