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Liverpool, the city that turned off The Sun

Photo by Tembela Bohle from Pexels.

Liverpool fans hatred for The Sun newspaper is still going strong after more than 30 years. Ever since The Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 the newspaper has been ostracised from the city with many local newsagents still refusing to sell the newspaper in their stores.

The city’s boycott of the newspaper started after the Hillsborough Disaster. The incident took place on the 15 April 1989 during the Liverpool and Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final, in which a crush of football fans resulted in 96 deaths and hundreds of injuries. To date it is the worst sport stadium-related disaster in British sporting history. The following video explains why Liverpool boycotts The Sun newspaper and the repercussions of the newspaper coverage of the event.

Following the incident at the stadium, the police wrongly attributed all blame surrounding the human crush to the Liverpool fans in attendance, accusing them of being drunken hooligans. The Sun then published a front-page piece about the incident titled “The Truth” four days after the incident, in which they also accused the Liverpool fans of ultimately causing the deaths of 96 supporters due to their actions on the pitch. Three sub-headings followed the controversial headline, consisting of: “some fans picked pockets of victims”, “some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life”.

The Sun’s media coverage of the event led to a majority of Liverpool fans and citizens turning away from the newspaper. The newspaper’s sales dipped following the 1989 incident and has not recovered since. The Liverpool Football Club has since banned The Sun from their Anfield stadium and Melwood/Axa training ground. Additionally, The Sun is not permitted to report on the club’s matches from Anfield and has been given no access to interview players or the manager, Jürgen Klopp. The boycott of the newspaper reaches even further with the Everton Football Club also banning The Sun’s reporters from press conferences at their stadium.

Photo by Linksfuss from Wikimedia Commons.

Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of the Sun during the Hillsborough coverage, apologised in 1993 for his actions, but ultimately put the blame on the misleading information he received. However in 2006, he went back on his apology, being quoted at a private business lunch that he had only apologised because newspaper owner Rupert Murdoch had made him. He was quoted saying “I was not sorry then and I’m not sorry now.” A further official apology was made in 2005 by The Sun as well as an apology made by MacKenzie in 2012 following the publication of a report that absolved Liverpool fans of all blame regarding the tragedy. Liverpool fans and club officials have refused to accept the apologies made.

Spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Peter Hootin said “the boycott of The Sun is symbolic.” He further explained that “people don’t feel that there has been any genuine apology” and that “most Liverpool fans will never forgive the paper and will never buy it.”

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