Martin Tyler refers to Hillsborough disaster as a 'hooligan-related' issue

Football commentator Martin Tyler and the BBC have apologised after referring to "Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues" in a BBC interview.

Talking about football at the time when the incident happened on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Sky Sports commentator attracted criticism when he appeared to link the tragedy with hooliganism.

He said: “You have got to remember football was in a bit of a crisis at that time. We weren’t that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues as well, so it was very much a difficult time for the game generally.”

A total of 97 supporters died as a result of the crush which occured at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium after attending an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April, 1989.

The 1990 Taylor Report investigating the tragedy ruled that a failure of crowd control by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) was the primary reason for the deaths, not hooliganism or drunk behaviour as the SYP had claimed. A coroner inquest between 2014 and 2016 also ruled those supporters were unlawfully killed and that fans’ behaviour had no contribution to the disaster.

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This being the case, his comments attracted widespread criticism from people including Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, and MPs Ian Byrne and Paula Barker:

Following the backlash, he issued an apology through Sky. “This morning, while discussing various crises facing football 30 years ago, I referred to some examples including the Hillsborough disaster and also controversy over hooliganism at matches,” he said.

“These are two separate issues. There is no connection at all between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that, and I was not implying that there was. I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding.”

Meanwhile, the BBC said: “We regret that we did not robustly challenge Martin Tyler on a comment which appeared to link Hillsborough and hooliganism. Martin has since apologised for the comment & clarified that these were separate examples and he did not intend to conflate the two.”

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