Football fan who wore offensive shirt about Hillsborough disaster chuckles after being sentenced

A man has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence after wearing a shirt referencing the Hillsborough disaster to the FA Cup final.

James White, 33, of Warwickshire, admitted a charge of displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

It comes after he wore a shirt that referred to the Hillsborough disaster to Manchester United’s FA Cup final against rivals Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on 3 June.

A total of 97 fans died as a result of a crush at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in 1989.

An inquest jury ruled in 2016 that the fans were unlawfully killed amid a number of police errors, but only one person has ever been convicted over the disaster – for a minor health and safety charge.

In March 2023, the Manchester United and Liverpool, who have a long-standing footballing rivalry, jointly called on fans to end “tragedy chanting” ahead of a Premier League match at Anfield.

The clubs issued a statement from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his United counterpart Erik ten Hag calling for an end to chants and online abuse about tragedies such as Hillsborough and the Munich plane crash in 1958, which resulted in the deaths of 23 people, including eight United players.

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“It is unacceptable to use the loss of life – in relation to any tragedy – to score points, and it is time for it to stop,” Ten Hag said.

“Those responsible tarnish not only the reputation of our clubs but also, importantly, the reputation of themselves, the fans, and our great cities.”

The rivalry is intense but shouldn’t cross the line, Klopp agreed.

“We do want the occasion to be partisan and we do want the atmosphere to be electric,” the Liverpool manager said.

“What we do not want is anything that goes beyond this and this applies especially to the kind of chants that have no place in football.”