Istanbul & Munich: 25 Dead And Still They Chant TSS September 22, 2011 Leeds United 38 Comments Far be it from me to preach to anyone about how they should conduct themselves at football games, but for those who filled the air Tuesday night with Istanbul and Munich chants, listed below are the 25 people that died in those disasters. Some were there to play football, some to report on it, whilst others were there solely to support their club, as was the case with our own fans, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight. Captain Kenneth Rayment, Tom Cable, Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, Walter Crickmer, Tom Curry, Bert Whalley, Alf Clarke, Donny Davies, George Follows, Tom Jackson, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Frank Swift, Eric Thompson, Bela Miklos, Willie Satinoff, Christopher Loftus, Kevin Speight. The reason I chose to list the names at the top of the post is because the tendency to constantly refer to these disasters by the place name in which they happened removes the human element. People forget that it was fans like you and me, and the players we all pay to go and support that died in these tragedies. And when that human element is forgotten, their deaths become nothing more than a sickening soundbite for terrace warfare. On Tuesday night as Leeds and Manchester United faced off in a League Cup encounter at Elland Road, the supporters of both sides used the tragedies to anger their opposition. The untimely deaths of 25 people were used as nothing more than ammunition in a game of terrace one-upmanship. The indifference with which some have shrugged off the chants, branding them “inevitable” was almost as disturbing as the chants themselves. We somehow managed to get through an entire game at Old Trafford in January 2010 without incident, yet the same fixture at Elland Road less than two years later sparked ugly scenes before the game had even kicked off. What changed here was the premeditated actions of a few idiotic Manchester United “fans”, which many of you will have by now seen on YouTube. This however, was inside the stadium, and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it all kicked off beforehand. A common report I’ve heard is that the mood shifted when a coach arrived with a “Turkish Reds” banner on board. This was followed up by the Istanbul banner inside Elland Road itself. These sickening, and premeditated actions, were designed to get a response from the Leeds United faithful. The idiots that created these banners came to Elland Road with the sole intention of causing trouble, of creating the kind of hostility that leads to mass violence and could quite easily have led to much more serious injuries than those reported. I’m not saying the chants wouldn’t have happened regardless, but judging by the amount of Leeds fans that booed the Munich chants when they began and based on an altogether more peaceful affair at Old Trafford the last time round, I sincerely doubt they would have. These things always need a spark, and that’s what the sickening banners provided. At that stage, even the most rational fan can get consumed by anger and find themselves shouting things they’ll later regret. I’ve seen it happen all too many times, peaceful matches turning incredibly hostile in a split second by a single incident. Whether it’s a Millwall thug with a Galatasaray shirt, an opposition player making crude gestures to the crowd or an hate-fuelled banner, these are the kind of despicable actions that can turn an otherwise peaceful encounter into one where people get hurt. This isn’t about who started it, but the people who brought along that banner were an entirely different class of scum who deserve extreme punishment. The problem with chants inside football stadiums is that there’s very little the authorities can do about them – that’s entirely down to us, to boo the minority that join in and educate the ignorant as to what it is they’re singing about. But in some rare cases, it is possible to isolate and punish the source. In this case, the video evidence will make it pretty easy to identify the worthless individuals who spent the night before this game creating a banner they knew would provide the spark a potentially volatile fixture would need to erupt. Whilst they may have been sat in the Manchester United end, these idiots didn’t care any more about the memories of the 23 that died in Munich than they did about the Leeds fans that died in Istanbul – they knew what reaction they’d get, they were hoping for it. It wasn’t just the 25 victims of Munich and Istanbul they didn’t care about though, they knew their actions would spark clashes outside the ground putting the innocent supporters of both sides, and the Police at risk. They knew all this, yet still decided to create a banner and display it inside Elland Road. It was premeditated and unforgivable, and as such, the authorities should show these individuals the same level of consideration they showed everyone else when handing out punishment – absolutely none. None of this gives anyone else the right to chant abuse and respond with violence however. Those that booed I applaud, those that joined in need to seriously consider what it is they’re chanting about – on both sides. The longer we continue to fight fire with fire, and use the oppositions actions to excuse our own, the longer this continues. It’s a vicious circle only the fans can break.