Martin Tyler: what did he say about Hillsborough disaster?

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In a statement, the Sky Sports commentator apologized “from the bottom of my heart for any misunderstanding”.

The veteran Sky Sports presenter has sparked outrage after referring to “Hillsborough and other hooligans-related issues”.

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He has joined the BBC in apologizing for not “robustly” questioning his comments.

Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram called the comments “extraordinarily blatant” and added that he “hopes there will be a strong apology”.

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Here’s everything you need to know about what Martin Tyler said.

Martin Tyler attends the 2022 Premier League Hall of Fame on April 21, 2022 in London, England (Image: Getty Images for eSC)

What did Martin Tyler say about the Hillsborough disaster?

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In an interview on the Today Program for BBC Radio 4, Tyler referred to “Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues”.

The veteran broadcaster was there to talk about the last 30 years of La Liga.

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Tyler said the game was “in a bit of a crisis at the time.”

He added: “We weren’t long after Hillsborough and other hooligans-related issues, so it’s been a very difficult time for the game in general.”

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His comments linking the disaster to hooliganism have sparked outrage and condemnation.

What was the Hillsborough disaster?

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One afternoon in 1989, a rush developed at Hillsborough Football Stadium in Sheffield as Liverpool fans watched the club’s FA semi-final match against Nottingham Forest.

The disaster claimed the lives of 96 people, the fans themselves were initially blamed for the tragedy, with newspapers of the time citing “drunk and ticketless” people as the cause of the disaster.

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The families of the survivors had to fight for 30 years to get justice for their loved ones.

The Hillsborough Inquiry was launched in 2014 and concluded in 2016.

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It turned out that the 96 people who died were unlawfully killed, with a jury deciding fans had played no role.

Police failure, stadium design flaws and a delayed response from the emergency services were blamed for the tragedy.

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Since that verdict, families have been trying to hold those responsible accountable.

However, the only successful conviction was against Graham Mackrell, a former Sheffield secretary, who was found guilty of a security offense and fined £6,500.

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Flowers, shirts and photographs surround the eternal flame at the Hillsborough Memorial on Anfield in Liverpool (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

What did Martin Tyler’s apology say?

Tyler announced his apology on Sky after the interview aired.

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He said: “Speaking this morning about various crises in football 30 years ago I pointed to a few examples including the Hillsborough disaster and also controversies about hooliganism at matches.

“Those are two separate issues. There is absolutely no connection between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that and I didn’t imply it. I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for any misunderstanding.”

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The BBC also issued an apology, drawing on criticism that it did not question Tyler’s comments during the interview.

The BBC said: “We regret not vigorously challenging Martin Tyler over a comment that appeared to link Hillsborough and hooliganism. Martin has since apologized for the comment, clarifying that these were separate examples and he had no intention of confusing the two.”

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How was the reaction?

There was a strong reaction from the city of Liverpool, with both politicians and people who were there during the disaster condemning the comments.

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Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram called Tyler’s comments “extraordinarily blatant” on Twitter.

He added: “Even now, people whose careers are built on football are still spreading these nasty smear phrases. I hope there is a sharp apology.”

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Paula Barker, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, called the comments “disgusting” and criticized the BBC for not questioning Tyler’s testimony.

She took to Twitter to call out the incident, saying, “How can he be allowed to have a career in sports journalism and continue these lies”?

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