Aspinall calls for lifetime bans

The Bolton News: There were emotional scenes before Sunday's game at Anfield There were emotional scenes before Sunday's game at Anfield

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall has called for lifetime bans to be handed out to anyone making offensive gestures or singing insulting chants about deaths in football tragedies.

Aspinall, a member of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, was at Anfield on Sunday as the club paid tribute to the work done in the search for justice following the publication of the independent panel's report exonerating fans for the deaths of 96 people in the 1989 disaster.

Both sets of supporters acted respectfully throughout, until after the final whistle when a couple of Liverpool supporters goaded the Manchester United contingent with a Munich gesture in reference to the 1958 crash which killed eight United players and 15 others.

The response of the United fans to the taunts was depressingly predictable, chanting "Always the victims" and "Murderers" - reminders of the Merseyside club's own recent tragedies in Hillsborough and Heysel.

Aspinall did not witness the incident, stressing it would not have affected what was an "uplifting" day anyway, but felt it was time action was taken against the perpetrators. She told Press Association Sport: "A couple of fans came up to me at the end and said they hoped I hadn't heard any of it, and I didn't but a lot were upset by it.

"Even if I had heard it it wouldn't have mattered because there were only a few morons. They are not winning. You have to look at the vast majority. I hope it never creeps back in again. Any form of chanting about any disaster is appalling and it makes you ashamed.

"If they get caught on CCTV they should not get a second chance - ban them for life so they can never go to a match again. The Manchester United fans were very good. Obviously there were a few morons but you can't blame the majority."

Prior to the match United great Sir Bobby Charlton presented former Reds striker Ian Rush with flowers, later to be laid at the Hillsborough memorial, and captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons. Mosaics on three sides of the ground reading '96', 'Justice' and 'The Truth' were displayed for the opening minute of the game.

Aspinall said the occasion had been a fitting tribute in recognition of the 23-year fight for justice, which will now continue off the field in the law courts. She added: "It was a very emotional day but also a very uplifting one. We just felt very humbled by what the two clubs and fans did.

"It was a fabulous thing and it didn't matter who won at the end of the day because it was all about the 96. It was a wonderful tribute and I thought it was a lovely moment, a lovely gesture, when Sir Bobby Charlton presented flowers to Ian Rush on the pitch."

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