James White, a 33-year-old Manchester United fan, was handed a four-year ban from attending matches after wearing an offensive shirt to this month’s FA Cup Final that referenced the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. In 1989, 97 Liverpool fans died in the tragedy.
White had pleaded guilty to displaying threatening or abusive writing at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in London, and was also fined 1,000 pounds ($1,280). On Monday of this week he received his punishment for his actions. Upon hearing the decision White smiled and chuckled.
The shirt he wore to the match was a Manchester United jersey with the number “97” and the words “Not Enough” printed on the back. The implication was that not enough Liverpool fans had died in Hillsborough for Manchester United’s satisfaction. Many saw this as being particularly hurtful to those who were affected by the tragedy – both family members of those who perished and Liverpool fans who remember it all too well.
Frankly, it is hard to imagine how anyone could be so insensitive with regards to such an emotional event; however White has now been made aware of what consequences his actions have brought about.
It goes without saying that in future football matches should always be a safe place for people of all creeds and backgrounds regardless of allegiances or personal history or opinion. Everyone deserves respect and an atmosphere free from aggression or intimidation when they attend any sporting event – especially one with such strong historical roots as soccer does.
In light of this incident it is clear that more needs to be done in order to ensure that stadiums are places where everyone can enjoy themselves regardless of team affiliation and feel safe at all times – including proper enforcement when it comes to inappropriate behaviour like what occurred during this year’s FA Cup Final.. Messages like the one White chose to display should not be tolerated anywhere near football grounds and should be punished accordingly if necessary.
The four-year ban given to James White serves as a reminder both him personally but also more broadly speaking – that these kinds of offences are treated seriously by authorities when they occur at public sporting events such as football matches and those committing them are held accountable for their actions no matter what team they support.