Steven Cohen Apologizes For Inaccurate Hillsborough Claims


World Soccer Daily host Steven Cohen issued an apology Monday in response to his inaccurate statements he made in April when he blamed Liverpool fans for being the root cause of the Hillsborough Disaster, as well as other false claims.

In an open letter to his listeners and readers, Cohen said “I would like to apologize for comments made on World Soccer Daily on Monday April 13th that referred back to an event from April 1989 (the Hillsborough Disaster). My apology is directed at any and all people whose feelings have been hurt and people who have had awful memories and scars re-opened. The apology is heartfelt, genuine and sincere.”

While he didn’t go as far as retracting the inaccurate statements or admitting he was wrong, EPL Talk is pleased that Cohen accepts that he has a responsibility either to share the truth or keep his controversial opinions about Hillsborough to himself.

The controversial remarks by Cohen have splintered soccer followers both in the United States and around the world, with plenty of fans taking one side or the other. What it does show is that there’s still a lot of confusion regarding what happened at Hillsborough even 20 years later, which is unfortunate because the truth is black and white. I encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to look through the evidence compiled at

The whole incident regarding the unfortunate remarks made by Cohen illustrates how powerful the Internet can be in creating online communities to generate pressure on advertisers and enacting change (note, however, I did not condone the death threats Cohen received). As a whole, the campaign by neutral fans and Liverpool supporters was done in an intelligent and effective matter that encouraged lively debate.

Another important point about the whole episode was how inept the mainstream media was in covering the controversy. The three media clippings in the LA Daily News, New York Times and National Public Radio were poorly constructed, failed to accurately provide both sides of the story and left the glaring facts out. These three clippings are a perfect example of how mainstream media continues to fail the public in providing objective pieces that feature exhaustive research.

UPDATE: The comments regarding the Steven Cohen controversy have been closed. It’s time to return the discussion to football.


117 thoughts on “Steven Cohen Apologizes For Inaccurate Hillsborough Claims”

  1. Two things here;
    1) I myself completely disagree with steven cohen's assertion that it was down to liverpool fans etc and i dont blame them at all in that because i think you cannot sit in your armchair and speculate as to how people are supposed to behave in a crush situation. I just hope I never have to find out and have the utmost sympathies with those who lost loved ones.

    2)I have listened to the show and he in fact did retract the point about 6 to 8 00 people which you made a big issue about

    3) However the main thrust of his point was that, the unbelievale lack of patience by the liverpool fans led to this, if people had calmed down more about and gone and enjoyed the game, i'm sure the disaster would not have happened.....but we all like to coddle the fans patronise them into thinking that unadulterated passion is a great thing, when it isnt.

    4) You are essentially congratulating people who have instigated witch hunt against someone for holding a viewpoint, which is quite shall we say under the belt...seedy and a bit disgusting.

    5) I have read your previous article and there nothing less than sanctimonious nonsense and while i probably agree with your posiition in this matter, I have to say, this attempt at sabotage was as subtle as an elephant. You'v been successful but then again guttersnipes have always been successful in the world of media.


  2. * I made a typo at the top... obviously I meant to say five things

  3. Operationmindcrime:

    "However the main thrust of his point was that, the unbelievale lack of patience by the liverpool fans led to this, if people had calmed down more about and gone and enjoyed the game, i’m sure the disaster would not have happened…..but we all like to coddle the fans patronise them into thinking that unadulterated passion is a great thing, when it isnt."

    Uh, no that was not the main thrust of Cohen's point.

    Moreover, the game had already kicked-off that day and thousands of fans had still not been admitted into the ground.

    Are you suggesting that by expecting to be let into the ground before the match as opposed to during the match was an unreasonable expectation by supporters?

  4. I ask now, is this enough for you people or will the majority of you take this as totally insincere by him and keep on this campaign and personal vendetta against him still.

  5. Erm, points 1 and 3 sort of contradict each other.

    I wouldn't be as bothered about this if Cohen didn't have a history of vitriol against Liverpool and their supporters. He made the same statements on his TV show a couple of years ago, and was IMMEDIATELY instructed to apologize the following week by the bigwigs at Fox. And on his radio show in October, the day after Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 at the Bridge (to end the long unbeaten home streak they had), Cohen laughingly recalls taunting the Liverpool fans at his pub (where he was watching the match) with chants of "Mur-der-ers!" He made some snarky joke when Liverpool fan Nick Geber used to co-host the TV show with him - a caller asked why Liverpool have five stars on their jerseys, and when Geber said it represents the five European Cups, Cohen chimed in "Yeah, they also have 39 coffins on there as well!" (in reference to the Heysel tradgedy) and proceeded to laugh uproariously for a minute.

    Having a go at rival fans and teams is part of the game, but having a laugh and stirring the pot of a tradgedy and disaster is going beyond. I'll still not listen to his show, watch his crap on FSC (which is a pity, because I enjoy Nick Webster), nor buy products from anyone sponsoring this hairbrained muppet's airtime.

  6. look whatever you say, the fact remains, when fans are drunk and roudy and it doesnt matter if they are from liverpool.....trouble will follow, It had been happening in england for years before....and fans from england have a poor track record since......this isnt about a football lclub....96 people died thats bigger than everything mate.....everything....doesnt matter if they supported a poxy sports team....they were human beings with families with lives and to trivalise them into pathetic little tribal games and shut people up like that is pathetic........Annerverserising it in this manner is almost masochistic and really pathetic because people tend to ride on those who genuinely lost people and garner sympathy for themselves...............

  7. People are addicted to outrage and 'being offended'. For me the only people who are allowed to be outraged offended or be sensitive are those who lost loved ones, those who were there and got injured physically or mental and the players etc..... People like chris harriss who quite clearly are leaching of the hysteria of this publicity i don't believe have a right to express that same outrage....its pathetic,its low and its quite blatant

  8. The reason that there's a rememberance service every year is because the people responsible for the tragedy - as outlined in the Taylor report - have never been brought to justice. As you say, 96 people died - brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, fathers, mothers - and their families haven't seen one iota of closure. Hillsborough had absolutely NOTHING to do with rowdy fans or drunkenness - it was the police who funnelled the supporters into one area of the stadium, without opening gates to the surrounding stands.

    Cohen's comments on the subject are no more tasteful than if someone else made jokes about the Munich air disaster.

  9. "For me the only people who are allowed to be outraged offended or be sensitive are those who lost loved ones, those who were there and got injured physically or mental and the players etc"

    So by this thinking, the only people who were effected by 9/11 were those in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania? (And of course, not everyone in these areas, only the people working in and around the towers and Pentagon, and those related to them?)

  10. Ubermick

    dont be pathetic....911 was a terrorist attack......this was a tragedy, this wasnt an attack on liverpool fans (unless you think there was a conspiracy involved in which case your dummer than I think)

    to compare this to 911 is exactly the kind of halfwitted nonsense people like you come up with. Its utterly pathetic and disgraceful....I mean seriously!!!

    Actually I'm not surprised that chriss harris attracts halfwits like himself to read his posts....

  11. Cohen’s comments on the subject are no more tasteful than if someone else made jokes about the Munich air disaster.

    He wasnt making a joke about them, he was raising an issue about fans in general......that sometimes people take there teams too seriously and this constant thing of glorifying the tribal nature of football fans has to stop.....or it leads to disasters....lets not forget heysel,,,hillsborough wasnt the only event involving liverpool fans...and english fans...remember france 98 and galatasary 2000.....People forget about those....

    To silence him like that and not have the balls to debate it with him smacks of the most ultimate hypocricy and you too are guilty of it

  12. No, I'm not claiming that Hillsborough was some sort of conspiracy.

    I'm fairly sure that if you ask someone who lost someone on 9/11 (like me, for example), they'd agree it was a tragedy. Terrorist attack, too, but a tragedy. My point was that a lot of innocent people died that day, and it would be hugely inappropriate to make jokes about it.

    Oh, and you spelled "dumber" wrong.

  13. I'm don't know whether he made jokes about it.....frankly I only have your word to support that claim....which quite frankly ain't very much.....but i'm talking about the MAIN point he brought up....the point that all of you seem to silence him on....


    There ya go. Him joking about singing "murderers" after the Liverpool v Chelsea game. Don't have the clip of him making the "Five stars? They should have 39 coffins" joke, just remember almost choking on my dinner when I heard it.

  15. Lovely, my you must be proud! You should probably issue an apology yourself for fanning the flames, dear lad. Squeezing every bit of sanctimonious bile from the gutter of public opinion, never mind its sliver of support amongst the fringe indeed.

    I do pray that time does heal all wounds reopened from such a disaster some 20 years ago now. I also "hope" that you too learn from these events as well. What happened to Liverpool supporters - so horrifying, to be sure - continues on to this day. I know your site contains the phrase "EPL Talk," but there was no EPL in 1989 either, so your comments about the Ivory Coast disaster is most eagerly anticipated.

    Other than that ... cheers and good day!

  16. PS - Just because you've falsely shouted "Fire" in a crowded movie theater doesn't brand you as an arsonist, but you, too, are accountable for the damage it may bring.

    And to not call out a bunch of lunatics for bringing 9/11 into an argument that has withered into rank terrorist tactics (death threats, economic threats), I say makes you a bit of a hypocrite.

    At least Steve Cohen went further than most would have done in his position: he is, after all, entitled to his opinion (whether he is right or wrong is irrelevant - he's entitled to his opinion). I've seen the 9/11 references and they are the inner workings of madness and extremism, for sure.

    Cheers again!

  17. Operationmindcrime

    "I’m don’t know whether he made jokes about it…..frankly I only have your word to support that claim….which quite frankly ain’t very much"

    "look whatever you say, the fact remains, when fans are drunk and roudy and it doesnt matter if they are from liverpool…..trouble will follow"

    Taylor Report paragraph 196.
    “I am satisfied on the evidence, however, that the great majority were not drunk nor even the worse for drink…In my view certain officers, seeking to rationalise their loss of control, overestimated the drunken element in the crowd…The more convincing police witnesses including especially Detective Superintendent Mckay and Chief Inspector Creaser as well as a number of responsible civilian witnesses, were right in describing this element (fans who had been drinking) as a minority…There was no criticism of the crowd in the period up to 2.35pm..the crisis developed because this very large crowd became packed into a confined turnstile area and it’s very density hampered it’s passage through the turnstiles.”

    Taylor Reoprt Paragraph 257
    “Before this inquiry began, there were stories reported in the press, and said to have emanated from police officers present at the match, of “mass drunkenness”. It was said that drunken fans urinated on the police while they were pulling the dead and injured out, thet others had even urinated on the bodies of the dead and stolen their belongings. Not a single witness was called before the inquiry to support any of those allegations though every opportunity was afforded for any of the represented parties to have any witness called whom they wished. Those who made ‘the allegations’ would have done better to hold their peace.”

    "I have listened to the show and he in fact did retract the point about 6 to 8 00 people which you made a big issue about"

    He retracted the actual number (plucked from thin air), which he claimed was 6-8000. Upon being corrected, he insisted his point was valid. He's wrong.

    Paragraph 200
    “the police witnesses who most impressed me did not consider the number of ticketless fans to be inappropriately large. This accords with two other sources of evidence.”

    Paragraph 201
    “First, there was a wide range of witnesses who observed inside the ground that the Liverpool end was at a late stage well below capacity save for pens 3 and 4. ..wing pens were sparse…The match being a sell out, there were clearly many ticket holders to come, and they could account for the large crowd still outside the turnstiles. Had the liverpool end been full by 2.40pm one could have inferred that much or most of the large crowd outside lacked tickets.”

    Paragraph 202
    “Secondly, such figures as are available from the clubs electronic monitoring system and from analyses by the HSE suggests that no great number entered without tickets. They show that the number who passed through turnstiles A to G plus those who had entered through the gate C roughly equalled the terrace capacity for which tickets had been sold…. The figures do suggest that there was not a very significant body of ticketless fans in the crowd which built up.”

  18. SanctimoniousPrat

    "whether he is right or wrong is irrelevant - he’s entitled to his opinion"

    Am I entitled to cancel my subscription to the Fox Soccer Channel? I'd love to know if that's ok with you, seeing as you seem to have decided who is or isn't entitled to free democratic rights.

    I've also written a letter telling his sponsors I don't want to buy their products if they support him. Is that ok? I'll hold off from sending it until you would be so kind as to give me the go ahead.

    I hope I get your permission - fingers crossed.

  19. Joe,

    You don't need my permission. Thankfully Democracy happens at the ballot box and within one's own budgetary decision to make purchases or not.

    By the way, love your response. Smacks of an open mind who can think on his own? I think not. Follow the herd, however small it may be. Apparently, you have never truly understood the concept and breadth of Our Constitution? Meanwhile you pipe on aimlessly like a Catholic school girl - "you're not the boss of me!" Righteous response you've authored there.


  20. Sanctimonious

    "Apparently, you have never truly understood the concept and breadth of Our Constitution?"

    Enlighten me - which part have I misunderstood?


    The 9-11 reference on this page was an analogy.

  21. Joe,

    Ya right, the 9/11 thing only appeared on this page? I've seen copies of the emails and letters from the Liverpool support groups touting this "analogy" as a form of grass roots inspiration. And please quit the bait and switch. It's way too passive-aggressive for my tastes and it cheapens your argument. And it makes you sound like a member of the First Wives Club - nothing more than a woman scorned.

    Cheers, and please do find a clue. Now that Cohen has apologized you can return to your parish, Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle.

  22. Gaffer you yourself should apologize for fanning the flames of this controversy.

    Also, do you not realize that the media outlets you berate in this post are under no obligation to cover the story they way you feel they should. Have they done long exposes or discussions on the recent tragedies at football matches in Ghana, the Ivory Coast or El Salvador?

    The story for them was one of fundamental importance for any member of the US based press corps. One of their colleagues was faced with death threats and vile, hateful, racist slander from people behind a key board. We have laws in the United States against hate crimes, and many here have committed it.

    Voicing an opinion about how a tragedy occurred is no way equivalent to racial innuendo and death threats against members of one's families for voicing an opinion.

    To many in the media that was the story not someone's opinion or interpretation of events.

    While we're into investigative journalism Gaffer, why don't you do a piece on the jail sentences which were a joke many of the murders at Heysel received as well as a piece calling LFC's implication of shared responsibility voiced to Juve in 2005 the same sham you called Cohen's calls for shared responsibility for Hillsborough?

    If we are going to go on ad nausea about Hillsborough what makes Heysel so special that it we avoid the topic.

  23. Sanctimonious Prat

    Thanks for putting me straight on the constitution.
    I'm off to my meeting of The First Wives club.


  24. Ubermick and Joe

    the youtube link you pasted didnt refer to hillsborough....he just saing fact if you go to torino and ask your average juventus fan,,,he;ll probably have the same adjective to describe what went on at heysel......again i think if you are regular lister to cohen, he mentions heysel in this and not where does he mention hillsborough BUT he is probably referring to have described this as 'making jokes about those who died at hillsborough' (something ironically which liverpool fans regualarly do at old trafford) which is completely innacurate and really sheds a light of the kind of voodoo logic you guys and chris harris employ in order to gain or sabotage a commercial rival

  25. Did you or did you not appear on his show after writing your articles? I don't listen everyday, but I found it surprising that you were nowhere to be found after writing your response piece. At the end of the day you were the main man fanning the fire and then seemed to disappear. It's too bad as I'm worried this site is going to turn into "blog journalism". Basically writing anything you want and causing a stir, but disappearing when someone wants to debate anywhere that's not within your domain.

    I hope I'm wrong as I know Steven was inviting you on his show to discuss the issues.

    I do enjoy the site, keep up the good work, but please step up to the plate more as it will add more credibility.

  26. Operationmindcrime,

    Be careful, even bringing up an Italian team to a Liverpool supporter makes them dart all over the pitch about matchfixing. Amazing how these folk can't stay with a major point outside of the approved talking points from the mothership.

    Since this entire controversy I turn the channel when a Liverpool game appears - which is the responsible response - and many more will tune them out as well, ranking their supporters slightly below traffic attorneys on the morality scale. They have become a largely irrelevant club anyway, and they won't win another trophy in the next decade. UEFA wants them nowhere near a piece of silver.

  27. Even Liverpool supporters KNOW that Platini equates Liverpool with rats, having been a legend at Juventus. The truth isn't always fair, but it's the truth.

    Keep up the great points and cheers to you!

  28. whoa..

    'As a whole, the campaign by neutral fans and Liverpool supporters was done in an intelligent and effective matter that encouraged lively debate'

    Harass, threaten to kill,antisemitism, and bullying sponsors is intelligent and effective? I completely disagree with this notion. Sometime 'opinions' can offend that's what 'talk radio' is all about. The tactics that were used are shameful and the Media was right to point out they have no place in the debate.

    Think Free!!

  29. ThinkFree absolutely spot on

    Chris Harris has proved himself to be a bit of a plonker. I mean this attempt of sabotage is not even subtle. Its really pathetic. And the fact that the soccer daily guy has had death threats over this nonsense is incredible

  30. Thinkfree and Brandon

    "Harass, threaten to kill,antisemitism, and bullying sponsors is intelligent and effective?"

    No it isn't. But "on the whole" the campaign by neutral fans and Liverpool supporters was.

    "...they have no place in the debate."
    "...disappearing when someone wants to debate anywhere that’s not within your domain."

    It's not a debate if one side brings no evidence to the table. I applaud Chris Harris for not stooping to Cohen's level. Why "debate" a complex disaster like Hillsborough with someone who has made their mind up when in possession of the wrong information, and who then refuses to change their mind even whilst acknowledging his facts are wrong?

  31. Operationmindcrime

    "the youtube link you pasted didnt refer to hillsborough…."

    Sorry that link was him joking about another tragedy.
    try this one

  32. Joe
    Regarding your
    "Why “debate” a complex disaster like Hillsborough with someone who has made their mind up when in possession of the wrong information, and who then refuses to change their mind even whilst acknowledging his facts are wrong?"

    The MAIN thing with your campaing is about silencing someone as in NOT DEBATING THEM....its chris harris who doesnt have the bottle or the guts to defend his position...and this campaign is nothing but a mob call it helping the debate is the most ludicrous thing i have ever heard

  33. I love how those who have a different opinion from the LFC faithful are misinformed. I've read everything there is to read about the situation, and while some of the facts are known, many are not, and anybody who has read the Taylor Report with any type of objectivity understands this. While Cohen can be a hack, at least he knows what he entertainer and a purveyor of opinion...and he doesn't claim to be anything more. This site purports to be a news source, and even manages to give itself airs in this post over some of the most respected news organizations in the world. The truth is that this episode has ruined the credibility of epltalk for most objective viewers of this situation. The tenor of your headlines and the innacuracy of the writing rivals The Sun.

  34. "No it isn’t. But “on the whole” the campaign by neutral fans and Liverpool supporters was."

    BS. Complete and utter.

  35. Doesn't anyone realize that when Steven sang "murderers" to Liverpool supporters, he did so with the Heysel tragedy in mind not Hillsborough? For which, in fact, many Liverpool supporters were convicted of manslaughter. Or is the Hillsborough disaster the only one Liverpool supporters remember? Therfore you assume that whenever Cohen opens his mouth he's talking about Hillsborough?

    From Cohen's own mouth. And that is only one day. Now tell me exactly how these comments were sensationalized.

  37. What this episode also shows is censorship exists which has introduced a chill. I am sure this site will never provoke controversy now so as not to ever be called hypocritical. When you have screaming intransigence, the wise thing is always to let them have their way.

    LFC supporters blew a chance to simply make the argument without threatening livelihoods, and much more. That would have been classy and would have helped your case enormously.

    Best of luck to all.

  38. LFC supporters blew a chance to simply make the argument without threatening livelihoods, and much more. That would have been classy and would have helped your case enormously.

    Bravo! Perfectly pointed out, and spot on! Using threats and intimidation works so astonishingly well to the vast middle of public opinion who has no horse in this race. A small slice of the Liverpool faithful have tarnished the brand of what SHOULD be considered one of football's great teams both in terms of reputation and following.

    All you've done is isolate yourselves and your cause, proving once again that the dark side of this sport is alive and well. God forbid you could ever think further than one car ahead on the freeway. You may have actually earned yourselves some sympathy to the cause.

  39. Fuzzball I made this point a hundred times. They now have their pyrrhic victory. Turned thousands of neutrals into haters of Liverpool FC and their fans and probably set the game back a few years in the United States. Great Job!

    Justice has been served.

    Steven Cohen demonstrated that even while he can be angry and small minded at times there is a vast gulf between him and Harris and the organizers of Liverpool FC fan clubs and message boards. The death threats, the antisemitism, the racism, the anti-gay slurs, the anti-American slurs and the rest of it are now up on the internet a permanent record for the world and especially America to see the class of supporters of fans of Liverpool FC are. It will remain because you don't even get it enough to take it down.

    The best one is Tony from New Mexico who I used to find mildly entertaining for his paranoid nature suggesting that threatening to break someone's legs was acceptable because it is not really a death threat. CLASS!

  40. BTW I am so glad Robbie Earle is still there!! I did not see him as a correspondent and thought he'd left. Were any of those who appear on the show convinced by this boycott? If WSD is such a horrible forum and so radioactive, why do these top class people (who also appear in the UK and elsewhere) appear on the show?

  41. Are the threats and nasty calls etc. I am receiving at work "intelligent" "effective" and encouraging of "lively debate"? Harris also leaves my personal information on this blog so that nut jobs can send said threats etc.. He also leaves antisemitic remarks up for the world to see. And now that I tried to deal with him in a private email about it he has blocked receiving the email. Harris- I just want to put this out there. What does the crowd think of Harris? Harris you can delete any post here that is out of bounds, you can protect people and you can actually not try to foster people being attacked in this way.

    You choose the low road.

  42. Simply put Steven Cohen hates Liverpool F.C. In the past he has ripped on the city the club and the people and he wonders why the backlash is so great. It’s like a nazi sympathizer trying to have an objective opinion on the Second World War. I’m not suggesting he wishes harm to anyone, but the problem is he gives nothing but hatred to Liverpool supporters and thinks he can be a voice of reason on the matter

  43. Mark,

    (1) If you want your contact information removed, just let me know. I'll be more than glad to remove it if you request it. All you have to do is ask.

    (2) I have not blocked any of your private e-mails.

    (3) I'm not aware of any antisemitic messages. But again, if you see some that should be removed, please contact me by private e-mail and I'll look into it. If you're referring to the word yid, a lot of Spurs fans embrace the word and don't view it as an insult. See

    The Gaffer

  44. Please remove the secretaries are getting pretty upset about these people they don't understand calling and yelling.

  45. Brandon,

    I didn't appear on his show after he baited me, and I didn't hide. I made it clear that I would be more than happy to come on World Soccer Daily — but only after Cohen apologized to his listeners and retracted his statements about Hillsborough that were incorrect.


    Get your facts straight. Cohen ignited the fire by stating the inaccurate and repulsive comments about the Hillsborough Disaster. I merely reported the news as factually as possible and backed up the story with evidence, something which Cohen has still yet to provide.

    The Gaffer

  46. Chris Harris,

    I was hoping that this subject would no longer be discussed on this site. Unfortunately, over the past few weeks it has been apparent that the host of World Soccer Daily, Steven Cohen, has received numerous death threats over his idea on what happened at the Hillsborough Disaster. While this may be his point of view, it is by no means appropriate for people to threaten him, his family, friends, and co-workers. Throughout these past weeks, I have been patiently waiting for a letter or statement from this site that discusses the seriousness of these death threats.
    I do believe that you do not condone the threats that Mr. Cohen has received. However, I feel that a non-public email or phone call in the near future to Mr. Cohen discussing the matter of which you do not support these death threats is necessary. I also feel that a small statement should then be issued on this site, informing followers that death threats are a serious manner.
    There is no doubt in my mind that you do not condone these horrible threats, which have been received by Steven and the World Soccer Daily organization, but it is my belief that the steps above are a necessary movement. I cannot stress enough how serious death threats are and I hope you will take this letter into consideration.

  47. also there was just a post that likened Cohen to a Nazi sympathizer....... hardly a comparison.

  48. Chris,

    I've repeated on several occasions on this blog and on others, and on NPR, that I do not condone the death threats and that I find them despicable. My message has been very clear and I'm sure Cohen knows that after reading the comment sections to these articles.

    Yes, death threats are a serious manner and they shouldn't happen. But I don't believe I fanned the flames. I merely reported the facts and made the public aware of the inaccurate statements Cohen made. And when the death threats happened, I immediately came out against them on this blog.

    The Gaffer

  49. Frank said:

    Gaffer you yourself should apologize for fanning the flames of this controversy.

    Also, do you not realize that the media outlets you berate in this post are under no obligation to cover the story they way you feel they should. Have they done long exposes or discussions on the recent tragedies at football matches in Ghana, the Ivory Coast or El Salvador?

    The story for them was one of fundamental importance for any member of the US based press corps. One of their colleagues was faced with death threats and vile, hateful, racist slander from people behind a key board. We have laws in the United States against hate crimes, and many here have committed it.

    Voicing an opinion about how a tragedy occurred is no way equivalent to racial innuendo and death threats against members of one’s families for voicing an opinion.

    To many in the media that was the story not someone’s opinion or interpretation of events.

    While we’re into investigative journalism Gaffer, why don’t you do a piece on the jail sentences which were a joke many of the murders at Heysel received as well as a piece calling LFC’s implication of shared responsibility voiced to Juve in 2005 the same sham you called Cohen’s calls for shared responsibility for Hillsborough?

    If we are going to go on ad nausea about Hillsborough what makes Heysel so special that it we avoid the topic.

    First off, Gaffer didn't start this fire, Cohen did with his pig headed, wrong insensitive remarks.

    NPR/NY Times, etc could have given more background on the story.

    But I do understand where you are coming from. Most Americans don't know much about what happened in April 1989, but now have a sexy story in death threats which reinforce their prejudice that British Soccer fans are hooligans.

    I do also agree that Gaffer or someone should do a piece on Heysel and why justice was so limited in that case as well. I've done some research on Heysel as a Serie A fan and the application of justice there was equally inept as it has been at Hillsborough. As you stated commuted or suspended sentences for what amounts to murder has left a very bad taste in Italy about English football and the Beligan authorities, a bad taste that still lives on today, almost a quarter century later.

  50. Hypothetical question. If the Taylor Report had put any of the blame on the fans, what would Margaret Thatcher have done? Didn't she hate the sport and thought all fans were hooligans?

  51. FSquid, again I am glad Gaffer raised this issue of Cohen's mis-statements, but believe the Taylor Report gave no blame to the fans also because Liverpool and English teams had served a European ban for fan violence after Heysel and the Taylor Report was crafted in such a way not to allow UEFA, already anti-English to ban English teams yet again. The Thatcher/Tory angle contributed as well.

  52. Gaffer, you're assertion that you didn't fan the flames is silly. I've followed this story unfold on this blog. I agree that Cohen is wrong, but this blog has gone far beyond making that point. The posts on the subject have been designed to create a sense of outrage, and have been thoroughly tacky. I'm talking about nonsense like:

    "That’s fine when it’s fun and games, but when Cohen (a Chelsea supporter) spews out misinformation about the Hillsborough Disaster, it’s dangerous."


    "For Steven Cohen to not apologize on air and to carry on about the need for Liverpool to share the responsibility of what happened at Hillsborough is sickening."


    "If he doesn’t apologize to his radio listeners, I’m concerned that he may spread his misinformation about what caused the Hillsborough Disaster to the weekly Fox Football Fone-In TV show that he co-hosts on Fox Soccer Channel. Having a loose cannon like Cohen on live TV is a risk that Fox has to determine whether it’s worth taking."

    Sickening? Dangerous? ..really?!

    Even the caveat in this post -- right after you give yourself a hearty pat on the back (classy) -- you say that you didn't "condone" the death threats. The word "condone" speaks volumes. You were so strongly against death threats that you didn't "condone" them - compare that to the adjectives you've used to describe Cohen.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. I hope, in the future, this blog sticks more to facts and analysis, then outrage and hyperbole.

  53. Christopher,

    You didn’t just say on the NPR segment that you didn’t condone the death threats. You actually said that you found the death threats to be "equally despicable". The inference is that threatening a man's life over something he's said is somehow equal to sharing an opinion about something that happened 20 years ago.

    The two things do not compare.

    With that said, if you truly find the two things to be equal, why haven’t you posted equally about the threats? You’ve written entire posts about Steven Cohen and his opinions, but you haven’t written any posts about the threats. Not all of the threats were sent to Steven privately. Many of these threats can be found on public message boards for everyone to see.

    If you truly find the two to be equal, treat them as such with your coverage.

  54. Rick,

    Listen to the NPR segment again and you'll hear that at minute 2.29, I say that I do not condone the death threats. I have repeated several times on this site and others that I was against the death threats.

    Cohen has apologized. I think it's time for you to drop it. Unless he steps out of line again, I don't plan on writing any articles about the topic.


    I've written four stories about the controversy. The first one reported the facts and made people aware of what happened. The second one reported that Cohen refused to apologize for what he said. The third one mentioned the appearance on NPR. And the fourth one, this one, reported Cohen's apology.

    Yes, his remarks were sickening and dangerous and despicable and repulsive. But I have not fanned the flames. I merely reported the facts. In contrast, Rick Rottman's site has written more articles than most blogs (including this one) regarding the whole Cohen/Hillsborough controversy.

    The Gaffer

  55. Sorry Gaffer, any time you intentionally misquote an individual, have it pointed out to you on multiple occasions by Rick and others, refuse to correct the misquote or apoligize, and that misquote goes on to be used as a basis for the death threats and hatred that have been spewed, you are every bit as complicit as those who actually sent the death threats. Until your hands are clean, your attempts to distance yourself from the firestorm you aided in stirring up won't be taken at face value. How could they be?

  56. Well said Gaffer - i have kept out of all of this as its in the past.
    As far as I can tell Gaffer reported the news and then provided backup for it.

    Cohen got in trouble on Fox Football Fone in for this once before and clearly should have the brains to realise that he should not do this again. Yet he did.
    His views are his views but how daft do you have to be to do this TWICE!!!

    Gaffer reported that he was at it AGAIN and I think that was perfectly valid for this website. The vast majority of people here despise death threats and Gaffer has clearly shown he does and done it publicly. Its now up ot Steven Cohen to learn from his mistakes and lets not have to read about a third one from him on the subject a year from now. I thought his apology was insincere because 2 minutes later he is back making fun of people. Still its something and can be put to bed now.

    Cohen exercised his opinion and others expressed theirs by boycotting his show. Had Cohen learned from his Fox experience none of this would have happened. I am no Liverpool fan but I can see why they would be grossly offended by some radio journo who had already issued an apology for this deciding to stir it up again with his comments which Gaffer then reported on.

  57. Gaffer,

    I applaud the pieces you've written on this. I can't see how people here are claiming that you have flamed anything. Cohen knew what he was doing, and he is the one who insists on repeatedly making inaccurate and damaging statements. I also can't understand how anyone can't see the malice in his statements.

    The Liverpool fans, and quite frankly the many neutrals who agree with them, had every right to boycott his advertisers and pressure them. Hillsborough has been exhaustively investigated, and the evidence and facts are available for anyone to discover should they wish to do so. It's too bad Cohen has acted in such an irresponsible manner, and it is hard for me to believe that anybody could defend his behavior.

  58. Partager and Rick,

    I did not misquote Cohen. Listen to the un-edited audio file at

    He immediately followed up the statement about 6-8,000 fans being the root cause of the Hillsborough Disaster by saying the following:

    "I am saying that I am yet to read anybody write in this weekend's Sunday papers in England where they're all doing big commemorations about the 96 [who died at Hillsborough], and why we should never forget and how it's changed the game, nobody discusses the 6-8,000 who showed up without tickets. And my argument has always been, and I'll leave it at this, if those people don't show up, this never happens."

    If you don't believe me, listen to the entire episode at

    Also, here's what Cohen said on April 20th on World Soccer Daily:

    “There were several thousand who showed up without tickets.” But a few minutes later, when co-host Kenny Hassan gave Cohen an opportunity to retract the 6-8,000 number, Cohen replied “If it’s not the right number, it’s not the point. If I’m wrong on the number, then I’ll retract it and apologize. If it’s 25, 2500 or 25,000, my point is made for me. There were people there who shouldn’t have been there because they didn’t have tickets and they were hell bent on getting in. I’m sorry, those are the facts.”

    End of.

    The Gaffer


    Notice this boycott site. Buried deep down is the apology. It never mentions some of the other things that Steven has said, there is no full context. Only the things most likely to incite fans.

    Harris has printed the apology at least. But that's the problem here. Once you wind people up in the way that he did, they never stop. They go from one target to the next and the hate never ends.

    This site was bad. It buried caveats and other statements. It did not provide context on statements on other disasters not involving Liverpool FC. Such context makes it harder to stir up the hate and sense of insult.

    The above site also places the cover of the SUN with the horrible statements about the victims. This is on there to inflame passions and as if Cohen has made these statements himself, when he specifically attacked the SUN's coverage. Notice how many in this forum and others try to associate Cohen with the SUN.

    Finally, Harris only condemns the death threats in comments. Obstensibly it is not "news" that a pundit and nominee for "Host of the Year" on his site is receiving death threats. Fortunately, real journalists actually understand the real story. Look at the Boycott Cohen site. It fails to directly mention the death threats and suggests that Cohen has "manipulated" the media.

    These "omissions" may not have stopped the boycott. They probably would not have prevented people from getting upset. But they do help raise the temperature really high and are irresponsible.

    I had to ask the Gaffer to remove my personal information from another thread, because I started getting threats and individuals started calling my job. I have had this happen before but again here the temperature was really high. Security was called to investigate, I explained and told them not to worry I hope it is just hot air. I hope.

    The Gaffer does not clear the board of hateful or inappropriate comments. He should. He has the ability to do it. I also think some of the fan boards that contain the threats and other hateful comments should have those comments erased. When the owners of those boards do not censor and/or admonish people for posting those kinds of statements, it is a form of tacit consent for them. Liverpool FC fan site has allowed itself to become a forum for hate and threats. Operators of sites need to be responsible. The Gaffer is not offended but I think he should take a deep look at himself and really ask if himself he as truly acted responsibly.

    If there is a football community both in America and on the net, the health and life of that community depends on responsibility. Cohen took a step in that direction by apologizing. But I think he is right, other actors have been reckless and reckless in a way that may damage the game. What parents want to take their children to see a sport where fans are threatening to break a talk show host's legs, sodomize him, or shoot him dead? Cohen was not responsible but the response has brought out the worse elements in the game.

    I find it interesting how many times boycott supporters and others refer to Cohen and his actions as "dangerous" or that he is "playing with fire." These statements suggest they both are aware and in part condone the more extreme stuff. Nothing that Cohen said is dangerous unless people act on it in a violent fashion. One could use language like divisive, wrong, idiotic. But when you use the term dangerous it evokes the idea that people must protect themselves. Much of the language in these forums even by responsible actors goes right to the edge. Is it any surprise that others go over it?

  60. 'I have repeated several times on this site and others that I was against the death threats'

    This does not go far enough! You have not spoken out about the Racist Mongering, Bully Tactics, references to violence against Women and Children. Similarly, you have not stated that Antisemitic remarks have no place in this debate. References to the Holocaust are also inappropriate. To simply come out against death treats is NOT ENOUGH!!

    Mr. Cohen has been subjected to the worst kind of hate and it's shameful. By uttering the words 'shared responsibility' this is a threat to his person, his family and his's shocking.

    The way this site has behaved; not so subtly as Mr. Harris would now suggest has supported, encouraged, condoned and even congratulated the 'behavior' of those who support his particular viewpoint.

    Furthermore, Mr Harris has not reported the 'facts' he has shared his opinion strongly in Op-Ed type piece condemning Mr. Cohen.

    Let's not smooth over what's happened here...


  61. Gaffer

    I'll summarize Mark's post for you.

    "Shame on you for printing verbatim what the guy I am defending said."


  62. Gaffer

    I'll summarize ThinkFree's post too.

    "Shame on you for disagreeing with the guy I am defending, and for inciting threats by printing verbatim what the guy I am defending said".

    FYI ThinkFree, Mark and others - yesterday I posted a link to another mouth frothing, hysterical, shrieking Cohen rant, which perhaps you haven't seen. The Gaffer, seemingly in the interests of keeping the peace, declined to post it.

    How does freedom of speech work then if one guy is allowed to say what he wants, just so long as he's never quoted on it?

  63. Christopher,

    Listen to your own audio file starting at the one minute mark. Steven Cohen is speaking specifically about the Ivory Coast. It's Kenny, his co-host, that brings the discussion back to Hillsborough. Once again, you wrote:

    “People showing up without ticket, hell bent in getting into somewhere where they shouldn’t be going because they don’t have tickets, is the root cause of [the Hillsborough Disaster].”

    What he actually said was this:

    "The thing is, the 23 that died in the Ivory Coast, in my opinion, the police were absolutely had something to do with it. At the end of the day, people showing up without ticket, hell bent in getting into somewhere where they shouldn’t be going because they don’t have tickets, is the root cause of it in my opinion".

    You have injected the phrase "the Hillsborough Disaster" into the quote.

  64. Joe.. I disagree with your summary. Can I now go after you, your family and your job.... I will include racist chants and post all over the internet to rally others to my cause...and force you to apologize... but wont' accept it!

    The debate will be less about your opinion and more about my new 'Internet Mob' buddies.. summarize that!


  65. Rick thanks for posting that. It puts a bow on some of my initial posts. I thought it seemed as if he had said the "same" things about the Ivory Coast disaster. My memory was correct and in fact the quotes were him actually talking ABOUT the Ivory Coast disaster.

    Joe printing comments verbatim without context or the full breadth of statements can be misleading or at least can present a distorted picture. If it makes no difference why not post on the boycott site descriptions of the full range of things he said. Why not post that he did not just target Liverpool fans but has said similar things about other disasters? In fact, some of the quotes were not even about Hillsborough. And Gaffer is dead wrong on that and should apologize. He did inject Hillsborough into the quotation, when Cohen was talking about Ivory Coast. I remember that day clearly. I thought he had just used the same language on a different day in reference to Hillsborough. Either way it is a critical context unless you want people to go the extra mile and feel his comments come out of prejudice against Liverpool fans and not a general (though wrong) view about crowd control.

  66. Mark and Rick,

    Listen to the entire audio file again. He started talking about the Ivory Coast disaster, yes. But he then changed his topic to talk about Hillsborough. Then a little later in the same conversation, he repeated the 6-8,000 claim about Hillsborough. And then on April 20th, he said there were several thousand.

    I can see how you guys got confused, but listen to it again a few times and you'll see that he started off about the Ivory Coast and then talked about Hillsborough. It's crystal clear.

    The Gaffer

  67. NickNY 05.18.09 at 11:03 pm
    Doesn’t anyone realize that when Steven sang “murderers” to Liverpool supporters, he did so with the Heysel tragedy in mind not Hillsborough? For which, in fact, many Liverpool supporters were convicted of manslaughter. Or is the Hillsborough disaster the only one Liverpool supporters remember? Therefore you assume that whenever Cohen opens his mouth he’s talking about Hillsborough?

    As far as I'm concerned this particular matter with Steven is closed. He's promised not to discuss the topic again, which removes any further chance that he will be misinforming his audience. Hopefully he'll keep that promise.

    However, the above quote illustrates a separate but connected matter, which Cohen's supporters would do well to examine.

    Next year, the World Cup will be held in South Africa. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that England play Germany at some point. If Steven goes to a local pub to support England and they lose, would it be acceptable behavior for him to get drunk and start abusing German fans with chants like "Nazi Murderers!" ?

    According to Steven's logic, they support Germany, some of them may well be German and as we all know, the Nazis were German, therefore it's acceptable to abuse completely innocent strangers, simply because you're upset that you lost.

    This is exactly what he did to innocent Liverpool fans and it is a perfect example of the "ugly side" of European soccer that Steven apparently wants to keep out of America.

    No matter what you think about Heysel or Hillsborough, the chances are that those fans had absolutely nothing to do with either. Why did they deserve that abuse? Because they had the temerity to support Liverpool Football Club?

    LFC, in turn, had nothing to do with the dreadful behavior of some of their fans either. Do you think that executives at Anfield were cheering on the murderous thugs at Heysel? Please catch a grip. When that kind of thing happens, the club condemns it, and provides the authorities with any help they need to bring them to justice.

    So, the club is innocent and fans that weren't involved in any of these tragedies are also, by definition, innocent. Why should they be vilified forevermore for supporting a soccer team?

    Are you people seriously incapable of making the distinction between thugs in Liverpool, England or any other team shirt and those who are just soccer fans?

    This is the problem that still remains with Steven, regardless of any apology. He has a completely irrational hatred and bigotry towards Liverpool, Liverpudlians and Liverpool Football Club.

    I support Liverpool. I therefore don’t like Manchester United. I am also a decent human being, who understands that this is a sport for goodness sake. I don’t feel the need to taunt Mancunians about the high levels of violent drug crime in Manchester, or anything else totally unrelated to the SPORT of soccer. I wouldn’t taunt Steven or any other Chelsea fans about the members of their fanbase who are violent neo-fascists.

    You all think Steven is such a great bloke, but do you honestly believe that some of the things he says represent the “beautiful game” ?

    In my view, he’s part of the ugly side.

  68. Jeremy,

    Have you ever heard of friendly taunting? Have you ever gone to a football stadium and heard the supporters? Do you think it may have meant as a joke. Do you think Steve thinks Nick Geber is a murderer?

    Good luck.

  69. Fuuzball,

    If you think calling a group of strangers murderers, is "friendly" or "a joke", then God help you.

    Good luck to you too. You'll need it.

  70. Christopher,

    I heard the comment when he said it on the radio. I actually listen to the show. He was talking about the Ivory Coast.

    I'm not talking about the 6,000 to 8,000 statement. That, I agree, was factually wrong. I am referring to the very first "quote" you have attributed to Steven Cohen. You inserted "[the Hillsborough Disaster]" into it.

    How many people have read that and have taken the quote at face value? How many other bloggers have taken your misquote and repeated it on their own blogs? Quite a few.

    You can't paraphrase what you think someone said and then label it as a quote. That's what you are doing.

  71. Gaffer- I find the comments confusing. But I do think it is important that he was speaking about the Ivory Coast disaster as the broader context. It makes a difference. He started off angry the people had died, incredulous. He then states he believes it is similar in form and type to Hillsborough. He then talks about what he (wrongly) believes to be the causes, with anger.

    The point of it is, he believes little has been learned since Hillsborough. The loss of life at Hillsborough was a tragedy, and the loss of life in the Ivory Coast was a tragedy. I am glad you have engaged on this. Don't you see the difference? It is big substantive difference and difference in tone. His anger is not at the 96 dead or at Hillsborough fan but that another tragedy has occurred at a football match.

    Without this context your article reads as if he launched into a tirade simply to hurt the families of the dead. Rather the aim, though misguided was to express grief, sympathy and outrage at the loss of life. Doesn't it make a difference? Your article could have made the same point, but it would have been much more balanced. As it reads now, it reads as Cohen set out to slander Hillsborough victims and simply to anger the families of the victims and Liverpool fans.

    Your original article draws a direct connection between the editor of the SUN and Cohen. A gross comparison. Cohen never in his worst statements, claimed Liverpool fans urinated on victims or robbed victims etc.

    "WSD playing with fire"- could there be a headline that fans the flames any more than that? You actually use the words.

    Gaffer, you are probably a pretty good guy. Perhaps this is a product of the growing role the blogosphere plays in the world of journalism (do you consider yourself a journalist). But I would submit that if you submitted what you have done here to someone who considers journalistic ethics, you would be found wanting.

    Neither you nor Cohen are proper journalists. Though Cohen admits it. What is your stance. I think these blurred boundaries are getting sticky. But I am dead serious and not just winding you up about this.

    I think it is an issue. Your blog has a lot of influence. Do you have training in journalistic ethics? Are you willing to send this to a local Professor of journalism or a working journalist and ask for their opinion? Do you have an editor?

    While this episode is a bad one. I think there are real things that can be learned from it.


  72. BTW Fuuzball, your comment "Do you think Steve thinks Nick Geber is a murderer?", is akin to saying... "I'm not a racist, some of my best friends are black".

    I have no doubt that Steven doesn't think Nick is a murderer, but I am also sure that if, unbeknown to Steven, Nick was in a crowd of Liverpool fans, he would have no compunction in chanting "Murderer" at him. In a "friendly" and "jokey" way, of course.


  73. Mark,

    I'm sorry, but you're giving Steven way too much credit. You are asking Chris to take other contextual factors into consideration and that's fine, but you're ignoring other relevant factors yourself.

    The initial outburst that started this latest dispute came in reaction to a caller needling Steven about Liverpool's history ON THE PITCH. Steven's response was not an honest attempt to raise a serious issue and have a debate, it was an entirely inappropriate tirade.

    Please do not try and pretend that Steven has noble intentions when it is patently obvious that he was deliberately introducing an irrelevant and inappropriate topic into a spat about sporting achievements.

    I've talked to you about this extensively Mark, both publically and privately and I have a great deal of respect for your opinions, but you really are gilding the lily by trying to have us believe that Steven intended this as anything other than a sick and childish taunt.

  74. While Hillsborough and Heysel were obviously different events with different reasons for occurring I find it completely dishonest and frankly disturbing that many of the same Scoursers that want "justice" for Hillsborough do not

    1- Advocate the same justice for the victims of Heysel.
    2- Supported Liverpool's insulting "gesture" towards Juve in 2005
    3- Refuse to acknowledge the actions of Liverpool fans at Heysel
    a) made the police twice about confronting Liverpool fans who were storming the gates
    b) make someone like Cohen's view of the LFC fans of the 1980s that attended that FA Cup semifinal at least somewhat plausible.

    The majority of you here are hypocritical at best, flat at dishonest at worst.

  75. Jeremy I think his motives are complicated. My best guess is he does feel Liverpool fans are a cancer in the game. That by not taking responsibility for these two incidents it helps perpetuate an environment in which these kinds of things happen. He feels there is a double standard and a lack of respect for the game and for the broader issue.

    These are my guesses. This does produce some anger and resentment towards Liverpool Fc. Because of what he feels is an unhealthy tribal, hysterical and angry attitude. The death threats and boycott confirm this stereotype for him and the band plays on.

    The issue with Harris is you can't just print the overall spirit of his comments in a piece like this. You have to use the actual comments in context. That's only fair.We can judge for ourselves but we need the full context and proper quoatations.

  76. Ian,

    It's Scousers, not "Scoursers", but in any case I'm not either. I just support Liverpool FOOTBALL club. You know, Football? Soccer? the sport? Nothing to do with violent thugs regardless of what team they follow.

    But in answer to your points...

    1. - There has been no justice at all handed out to those found to have been responsible for Hillsborough. Fourteen men went to prison for manslaughter after Hysel. That justice was not enough and I doubt very much that any justice would ever make up for what happened to those Juve fans, but it's better than absolutely nothing.

    2. - The only people that found the gesture "insulting" were a handful of Juve fans who turned their backs. That's their right and I understand. The vast majority of their fans in attendance applauded the gesture and the Italian sports press virtually unanimously criticised those that turned their backs.

    3. - The vast majority acknowlegde and are ashamed of what happened at Heysel.

    It is completely unreasonable to consider Steven's specious views as "plausible", simply because a tiny minority of Liverpool fans are myopic idiots. That last sentence of yours is ridiculous.

  77. Jeremy sometimes resolving a situation or understanding someone means taking the best reading of their argument rather than the worse. So if you just think Cohen is a bad guy with no good motives at all you never understand why he says what he does. He does not think he is doing wrong.

    Even the folks making death threats have some distorted view of being a victim and feelings about the incident and sense of connection the club. Dealing with it means understanding it.

  78. Jeremy I think more people even in the UK follow the logic as described by Ian. That's why shouting does not pay off. It confirms what they wrongly think about most Liverpool fans.

  79. Mark,

    When I hear an otherwise intelligent man mitigate Steven’s views with the comment “My best guess is he does feel Liverpool fans are a cancer in the game”, I want to scream!

    I’m a Liverpool fan Mark. Is it reasonable, in your experience of me, to describe me as a cancer?

    You then say…”That by not taking responsibility for these two incidents it helps perpetuate an environment in which these kinds of things happen.”

    Does Steven take responsibility for the Chelsea Headhunters? Does he take responsibility for the links to Combat 18? How about the fact that the ringleaders in the well documented history of violence by England fans are almost all Chelsea fans? Being English and a Chelsea fan, does Steven take responsibility for that?

    Garbage !!

    He may acknowledge and condemn it, as we all do for the Liverpool thugs, but he doesn’t take responsibility for it.

    Then you say….”These are my guesses. This does produce some anger and resentment towards Liverpool Fc. Because of what he feels is an unhealthy tribal, hysterical and angry attitude. The death threats and boycott confirm this stereotype for him and the band plays on.”

    “unhealthy tribal, hysterical and angry attitude”? Are you kidding me? You have just described Steven Cohen perfectly. Does he have a pathological hatred of his fellow Chelsea fans for not once, but twice issuing death threats to referees following a Chelsea defeat. One, Anders Frisk, had to retire, he was so scared.

    I really can’t believe you are defending this attitude by Cohen and trying to paint him as a reasonable man. It is not that I want to see the worst in him. Far from it. It's that he makes it impossible not to. He shoves it in your face and wears it like a badge of honor.

  80. Okay Jeremy. Why has Gaffer never done a piece on Heysel, but is seemingly obsessed with Hillsborough? European football pundits rarely if ever view the issues as completely mutually exclusive. That was my point. Go to the archives of this site and find where the issue of Heysel's affect on Hillsborough is actually analyzed. Actually find me any piece on Heysel on this site or its sister sites where Liverpool fans MURDERED 39 Juventus supporters. So uneducated is the public that another blogger on this network actually blamed Heysel on the Juventus supporters. Yet that blogger has not been denounced or disciplined or shamed the way Cohen has on this site.

  81. Ian,

    Cohen is a public figure with an audience of millions. I can't imagine this blogger has much of an audience. Please point me to his blog and I'll tell him off. Does he have any sponsors? I'll write to them. Please tell me how you expect me to discipline him and how i was expected to know about his idiotic comments in the first place.

    The fact is, nobody with any credibility denies the blame for Heysel rests with Liverpool fans. While I think Steven Cohen is a jerk, the majority of his audience value his opinions. That's the difference and that's why it matters.

    The main effect that Hysel had on Hillsborough was that Liverpool fans were treated as contemptable sub-humans by the police, who didn't give a damn about their safety. that attitude persists to this day in people like Steven Cohen.

    BTW - You don't need to capitalize MURDERERS. I know that they are murderers.

    I'm not.

  82. Re: the media in this.

    The reason all the media outlets focused on the death threats is simple: thats the news of the story.

    People get facts wrong all the time. Including newspapers. Someone saying something incorrect about an event that happened 20 years ago is not newsworthy, now. Sorry, but that's the truth of today's (dinosaur) industry.

    But people saying incorrect facts that result in death threats, sponsorship pulling, and other events is newsworthy. Why? Because it echoes and represents the opposing cultural ethos, which is what all news stories are supposed to encapsulate.

  83. timmg,

    That's fair enough, but please don't try and pretend that Steven had no influence over the direction of those articles in the media, or that he didn't go to the journalists concerned with the story in the first place.

    He admitted as much a week before the articles were publiushed/broadcast.

    This certainly wasn't the media independently finding a story and deciding what angle was newsworthy.

  84. Ian

    "Okay Jeremy. Why has Gaffer never done a piece on Heysel"

    If an intellectually challenged orangutan was to repeatedly and publicly blame Juventus fans for the deaths at Heysel, you probably would read more about it.

    At Heysel, Liverpool and Juve fans threw missiles at each other, some Liverpool fans charged at the Juve fans, they retreated, causing a wall at the side of the terrace to collapse, and 39 people to die. Those that could be identified were rightly jailed for manslaughter, but in my opinion, not for long enough.

    Now, please explain the logical pathway whereby I should be blamed for HIllsborough.


  85. Mark

    "The issue with Harris is you can’t just print the overall spirit of his comments in a piece like this. You have to use the actual comments in context. That’s only fair.We can judge for ourselves but we need the full context and proper quoatations."

    Why don't you do it? I'd like to see the extra quotes that would provide the "context" you're talking about. Please paste them below.


  86. This is a lynchmob mentality of silencing people is pathetic.....The fact is this article is celebrating someone's lack of bottle, lack of manhood, lack of integrity to actually stand up for your points and go defend himself on the world soccer daily show. Chris Harris has been a weisel. He's banked on whipping him sanctimonous hysteria to attract people to this site and its pathetic. In fact its an insult to those who died at hillsborough as their memory is now being sullied by leaches like chris harris who want to make a buck out of it by whipping up hysteria against a rival....I mean the guy wouldnt go and defend his postion....seriously gutless pathetic stuff...

  87. Operationmindcrime

    Having a go at at Harris but not Cohen is downright perverted.

    You are mental.

  88. although to be fair i have seen a video of chris harris and gutless he is not as he has got a huge tummy

  89. Cohen issued a similar 'sincere' apology the last time he spouted this nonsense. And the time before that. And the time before that. He issues it whenever he fears he has been caught out. Then he goes back to making the same sick 'jokes,' the same knowingly erroneous claims and the same sickening taunts. And some people still feel HE'S being victimised! It's beneath contempt.

  90. Jeremy, I am sorry but you did not read what I wrote carefully. Understanding someone's logic and thought process and defending it are two very different things. This has been a key misunderstanding of many of those involved. You sometimes understand people you don't agree with and part of changing someone's mind is understanding their logic.

    I of course don't think you are a cancer and I did not mean all Liverpool fans. I doubt Steven would think that either but would think some element of them. I would also gather he would say the same about the "headhunters" but that they are and were a smaller and less deadly element. Again this is me playing "devil's advocate"

    You also did not read my last paragraph. I made an attempt to understand those who are making threats and where that comes from. I was not "defending" those making threats. I am trying to understand where it comes from, so as to craft a solution or an appropriate response.

    So, people tend to see other groups different from their own. Its not right but I can demonstrate it in the lab- I actually have a friend who uses football to do psych experiences about group mentality-fascinating stuff!

    But his assessment of the "headhunters" is very different that how he sees his own group. This is probably buttressed by an argument about scope and scale. He saw two of the worse incidents in European football and one club. Like Ian points out he saw the defense of some fans of Heysel (they have appeared here) and what he sees as over the top feelings of victimization about Hillsborough as one piece. A lack of self-reflection, responsibility and a feeling that Liverpool FC is "special" when what he sees as special is their own involvement in these incidents (even if the blame was shared). He no more thinks this of all Liverpool fans than I do- which you automatically attributed my comments to. So the commemoration and moving the games became a revision of history for him and a dangerous one that is designed to obscure the problems that fans bring to the game.

    I don't think you are a cancer. And I should have been clear about that.

    That being said. For Steven and others official parts of the game have dealt with their issues. They have eliminated standing-something Steven is adamant about etc. He is also adamant about stadiums being up to snuff.

    What remains, the bugs him is what he sees as the attitude of Liverpool fans. The singing about Munich etc., while being involved in these other incidents appears to him to be deeply hypocritical and as I said a cancer in the game.

    That being said, similar things were said on air about tragedies at Ibrox, the Ivory Coast and other places. He has been scathing in discussions of deaths and violence around Italian football, he has talked about racism and been critical of those things.

    When he says something that LIverpool fans don't like he gets death threats and a boycott. This then confirms his belief that there is something special and disturbing about fans of Liverpool football club. Fans of other clubs have not responded in this way.

    I think Liverpool fans and folks from Liverpool are a little special. I think during that period Liverpool suffered extreme economic deprivation and government neglect. Football for many became an outlet for joy and frustrations. Is it any doubt during that period of economic and social upheaval there was so much violence around the game? I think some substantial part of the identity of adult fans at this moment was forged at that time and Hillsborough is a touchstone event that reinforces that identity. It also reinforces the narrative and feelings of government neglect, prejudice and stereotyping. Steven fails on empathy. He also was not in England at the time having already moved to the US and probably looked on with disgust at having "escaped" but didn't really develop empathy and an understanding of the events that took place. Note that was a time absent the internet etc. Information in real time in the US was spotty at best. We probably know now here more about the incident than anyone ever could have known in the pre-internet age when Steven formed his opinions.

    On the flip side, Liverpool fans have a strong identity. A very positive thing. Their attcahment to the club and its success was probably the only thing going well for Liverpool during really tough times. This incident allowed government neglect to intrude upon their one area of joy and refuge their love of their football club.

    In response they are rightfully outraged. But Hillsborough and the injustice are not only a central part of their identity as fans but who they are as people. It defines them, how they see government, how they see a lot of things. They pour over reports, analysis, and they join groups message boards etc. When someone says things that come out of a "common sense" response that does not jibe and reflect their deep understanding of the event that so defines them they become extremely angry and shout.

    Note all the accusations of ignorance and things hurled at American fans. It was not that most fans here don't after hearing the arguments think Steven is wrong they just don't think it is such a big deal he is wrong. They don't understand how the incident defines the group and all the feelings of pain, loss and neglect- especially relative to other tragedies.

    Thus, fans here see the incident much as Cohen does. It reflects an out of control tribal instinct- unique to Liverpool fans. Liverpool fans in turn get angrier because folks like me don't see any reason for the boycott and also have different sensibilities and tolerance for people expressing opinions even when they are wrong. The anger seems misplaced. Did Ranger fans boycott Kenny when he said, the fans were responsible and we need to get over it? Nope.

    See the problem is the back and forth where Liverpool fans assume Steven hates them just because they are Liverpool without understanding his experience and view and then Steven finds the behavior reinforces what he thinks about LIverpool fans (or at least a substantial group) becomes vicious cycle. The more violently one reacts to Steven and the angrier you get the more it confirms his view. The more intransigent Steven gets the angrier Liverpool fans become. It is a cycle of hate, based in sides not trying to understand the other. It is easy to understand and empathize with people we agree with. The trick is dealing with those whose opinions we abhor.

    That is why in some ways it is about "free speech" not in the sense of the constitution but in that open debate if conducted properly can create understanding. I think Steven did apologize yesterday and came to some understanding. Probably most of it was what he had heard from his friends. I don't think other sponsors were going to pull out but the cycle of hate was too much as he said on Friday. Sadly it continues.

    I am sure for all sides, a lot of things have been said. There is more chatter and information than thought on all sides of this. There is also a lack of responsibility for what people say and do. The internet faciliates communication but so little of it is thoughtful.

    I hope you understand this better. It is not a defense. I always go back to King in these situations. He was really clear on how when protesting you had to be sure not to come to hate the people you were protesting. He went as far as to say you had to love him. If he could love Bull Connor who turned clubs and dogs on them you guys can find some love for misguided Cohen. I see Vickery's letter as the entree to his apology. It was written so much in the spirit of friendship and public he had to notice it, he had to aknowlege and respond to such a diplomatic and loving overture. I would gather Vickery was more influential than all the angry emails or boycott threats.

    I think for various reasons, WSD is bullish on the financial prospects for the show in the future. Space for new and bigger sponsors going into a World Cup Year where more fans will come to the game and look for daily outlets as the buildup goes to 2010 means that outlets like WSD and EPL talk may be able to have bumper years even in a down economy. It also means a new frontier for the game in the states.

    When you combine this with the coming of HD, expanding coverage of leagues etc. The future of the game in the US is very strong. That's what makes this episode so sad. But I think it is a mix of that competition as well as some of the warts associated with new media. Podcasts, youtube etc. mean that things hosts say are broadcast all over the world. I am convinced that the norms for presenters in the UK are very different than here in the US. Most didn't see Steven as right but wondered what the fuss was about. Again in the pantheon of hateful and/or controversial things on American radio this does not rank. The web means though there is a blend of audiences and a lot more outlets to ratchet up the controversy on all sides.

    Or you could just conclude that Steven is a bad man, and some portion of Liverpool fans are just idiots and go your separate ways.

  91. look i actually agree with harris in the main that cohen was wrong to point the blame at liverpool fans.....but christopher harris has whipped it up beyond means ----solleley for the purpose of publicity... going to the point where people are threatening his livelihood (all the while patting yourself on the back for it)

    cohen may have dodgy views but harris has definitlely proved to be a dodgy charachter....the gutless, guttersnipe that he has been exposed as

  92. Joe is there a transcript of the show? I was listening that day and remember that he started the show talking about his sadness about the Ivory Coast. Hillsborough, Ibrox etc. were mixed into the conversation but the central theme was Hillsborough. I did not hear the April 13th comment. Though I assume that is more accurate.

  93. On business terms, Mr. Harris has done nicely from the traffic to his site. I would assume revenues are a function of that.

    Happy May.

  94. Mark

    Listen to the youtube clip posted earlier in this thread and then please try and imagine in your wildest dreams something that someone could say that could possibly contextualise it.

    I understand you're trying to see both sides, to play devils advocate, and all that, but think about what you're saying with regards to Vickery. You are postulating that if Liverpool fans had written polite, eloquent emails(which they did), pointing out why he was wrong(which they did), and why it was so hurtful(which they did) that it would have worked (which it didn't). Vickery's magnificent letter carried more weight because he contributes to the show. Cohen didn't want to lose contributors aswell as sponsors.

  95. Joe I am speaking of the youtube clip after the disaster in the Ivory coast. Can you send me that clip I will listen. But I do remember that day clearly. I actually wrote to Steven. Because there were a couple of days of discussion about how terrible it was. But I did want to say even if there were ticketless fans you can't really blame them. I think others did... hazy memory. It was months ago there was no protest etc.

  96. Point of information..have any boycott groups or leaders called it off?

  97. Mark

    "there were a couple of days of discussion about how terrible it (the ivory coast tragedy) was. "

    Did Cohen rip into them saying it was all their own fault, then claim outright that their relatives were corrupt, and did he then follow that up with a joke and a weak pun?

  98. One point that is often overlooked regarding the Hillsborough disaster and perhaps accounts for the "common sense" observed by some in Steven Cohen's assertions on the culpability of ticketless fans:

    The mass of people outside of the Leppings Lane turnstiles before the opening of Gate C, who are often ignorantly portrayed as a mob of charging ticketless fans, were corraled into a bottleneck alley with no possibility for retreat, this, combined with malfunctioning turnstiles led to a crush and the subsequent opening of Gate C. This flaw in the geography of Hillsborough was well known to police and avoided in years previous by crowd filtering on routes to the stadium. There was no storming of the gate.

  99. 'His remarks were sickening and dangerous and despicable and repulsive'

    I agree that Cohen mixed opinion and fact in a way that was irresponsible, demanded clarification and an apology towards those he hurt. The fact remains that the Taylor Report is NOT gospel and is a mixture of 'fact' and 'interpretation'. Anyone has the right to question it. Sure, when you question items that appear more factual with no evidence your argument comes across as weak and loopy, but you still have the right to express it.

    Had Steven Cohen prefaced everything with: 'This is my personal opinion only, and is not supported by the Taylor Report parts of which I disagree with because.... I believe that....', would there have been such a furore? He didn't, he should have, and he was irresponsible and dangerous. And although I disagree with him wholeheartedly, I am loath to describe his remarks with the same hyperbole as the Gaffer above. We are all entitled to damn people with whatever language we prefer, but Gaffer, your protests of journalistic impartiality do not sit well with such extreme language. Perhaps you too, like Cohen, need to separate 'just reporting the facts' from 'personal opinion'.

  100. look i actually agree with harris in the main that cohen was wrong to point the blame at liverpool fans…..but christopher harris has whipped it up beyond means —-solleley for the purpose of publicity… going to the point where people are threatening his livelihood (all the while patting yourself on the back for it)

    cohen may have dodgy views but harris has definitlely proved to be a dodgy charachter….the gutless, guttersnipe that he has been exposed as

  101. "have any boycott groups or leaders called it off?"

    Nope. And yesterday the Celtic Supporters Club joined the boycott.

    Unfortunately, Cohen's "apology" rings hollow. He's apologized before and then reverted to making the same unsubstantiated accusations. You can overanalyze this situation all you like, including the pop psychology, guessing about Cohen's motivations, etc. Enough is enough. How many more times is he going to spread the misinformation and the outright hatred he has shown toward Liverpool? Who knows, but plenty of people believe he shouldn't be given a chance to do it again.

  102. cohen may have dodgy views but harris has definitlely proved to be a dodgy charachter….the gutless, guttersnipe that he has been exposed as

  103. I think christopher harris should change his name from 'the gaffer' to (more appropriately) 'the guttersnipe'

  104. christopher harris

    Good for you on calling out this hateful bell end.


  105. Mark,

    You response is thoughtful, analytical and in large part very accurate. It is obvious that you have a very healthy and open mind.

    What I find galling and impossible to accept is that you can confer these attributes to Steven. He most certainly, on the basis of the evidence, has not given this one tiny part of the thought you have.

    For me, that is crucial as it establishes motive. You are clearly motivated by nothing more than an inquisitive mind and genuine compassion. Steven isn't. At least not when it come to Liverpool. That is where I have to say, you give him more credit than he deserves.

    This is cyclical, yes, but do you seriously think Steven Cohen is open to persuasion? You mention Bull Connor and the incongruous love shown to him by Dr. King. That is admirable, but did it change Connor's attitudes, his beliefs?

    Connor's actions turned public opinion against him. That isn't going to happen with Steven, because, as President Kennedy said - "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." Steven peddles the myths such as "victim mentality" and "worst fans in Europe" in order to lend specious plausibility to his arguments.

    When you accept that Steven will never be persuaded to abandon his hatred of Liverpool, then the only alternative that you would leave us with Mark, is to shut up and take it. We don't have a vehicle from which to educate his listeners, and he certainly isn't going to give us, to use his terms, a "fair shake", if any of us call in to challenge him. I think there is plenty of proof of that.

    I appreciate your contributions to this debate Mark, but as I said, Steven is nothing like you.

  106. Yes, because if there's one thing we know about Martin Luther King, is that he'd never have anything to do with something as hateful as a boycott.

  107. Operationmindcrime, are you sure you are not Steve Cohen hiding behind a computer? Or Maybe you have a crush on the guy? Either way you seem to go a bit jealous boyfriend on on these comments!

    Also, I've seem a lot of coments on the various sites about this topic but not one that makes a threat against his family. Rumor is he is making these up to get sympathy and distract from the issue. Clearly seems to be working with the not so intellegent amongst us (you don't know who you are but the rest of us do!). Even if true they are clearly a very small minority and not very hard to plant by people looking to make another set of fans look bad. If true then I'm sure there will be arrests to follow. I have my doubts!

    Gaffer, I think your coverage has been pretty balanced on this and I think it is good that you brought the issue to people's attention. I think the facts are there for everyone except those with an agenda (also known as the not so smart kids) and it is important that people are directed to them rather than hear the clearly uneducated views of one man. I hope that those who have taken the time to educate themselves as I have will in the future correct those who do not know the facts when they speak about these topics.

  108. By the way, for those who are not sure what Cohen has said (there seems to be some confusion) I found this link on another blog. It is a Liverpool link but is clearly an unedited audio so I had a listen myself. I was pretty shocked and completely understand why Liverpool fans want to set the record straight.

    People are defending him....WOW!

  109. Jeremy:

    Thanks so much for your posts.

    I honestly think for anyone who is fair minded Steven looks his worse when he goes after Liverpool and Liverpool fans. Read the support petition. Almost to a person those of us who sign disagree with him. He went on and on today about the great Liverpool FC Club of the 70's and 80's- no jokes no wind up. Just honest football talk.

    I think he is starting to get it. I think the ugliness of the news and NPR stories, and the letter by Vickery turned the tide. I also think Harris should have gone on the show and insisted he have a victim a relative or an expert. Hell, Phil Scranton or Rogan Taylor could have simply called the show. What has been stunning has been while this firestorm has gone on, how little the fans have been willing to engage. If you are a fan who just listens to the show and doesn't engage with message boards. Vickery's letter and the Fado cancellation brought it to the attention of fans. But I think you ceded too much space on this issue and did not use.

    Even the most angry of supporters Tony from New Mexico only appeared briefly to make a threat. He had not been on in months and they knew what he was going to say.

    Perhaps you have already won and don't know it. Steven probably understands that he needs to be more measured, responsible and respectful. The majority of American fans agree with that but also agree with the substance about Hillsborough. The only controversy are the threats and the boycott. There were ways to achieve both of those things absent it and in fact it is not a hindrance in that its continuance following the apology etc. discredits the whole thing probably in the minds of many.

    See I am glad you returned to King because when you understand his wisdom you get why he has a holiday. It was never about forcing Bull Connor to change his mind. It was about setting an example of love and conduct that would convince the world of the humanity of black people. When you move threw the world jettisoning the idea of defeating enemies but winning through love- it is both liberating and you see these issues differently. The anger fades and you understand how to move people.

    Often when someone is being a loud mouth being dignified and gracious is the best route. Hell America just elected a President in part because he mastered that technique. He never in debates matched attack for attack. He often even just ignored them, they always made his opponent look worse.

    There are and were creative ways to use the net, WSD and the forum it provides. There are also ways to persuade listeners and educate. I think both of these things have been largely successful in part because if you trust that on the whole most people are good people, they normally get it right.

    Boycotts etc. are very aggressive tactics that can cause a lot of damage. What are the sponsors to do? Many especially neutral will accept his apology and gentler tone (he is making fun of the boycotters but it seemed good natured and more to turn down the heat than turn it up). His statement was serious enough and he is rightly angry. But in the end the continuation of the boycott becomes and argument that the groups really are unreasonable. The shouts to boycott the New York Times and NPR were equally ridiculous. Americans understand you don't like it, but everyone gets coverage of issues they care about that they don't like. It sounds unreasonable to the average person and it was the reason those articles were so unfavorable. Outside loads of explanation like I provided above the story sounds simply, "Talk show host said something Liverpool fans don't like, liverpool fans boycott and make threats." I could tell you the story would get written that way 99 out of 100 times. Whether its Hillsborough, gay rights, abortion, anti-war protests whatever!

    So now the movement is left with the biggest public impression that the incident and their response is a continuation of hoolinganism in the game. Only the WSD listeners even those who support Cohen really know better.

    That's why I say this was a sad episode. Those who started the protest and who are keeping it going are in my opinion hapless amateurs intent on destroying their own cause.

    Cohen, Harris and everyone bungled this badly. He should have apologized earlier or never said it in the first place. Harris should have been more measured in his expose and perhaps turned EPL talk into a forum for debate and a place where supporters of WSD will come back for more information (there are some really nice scoops- I loved the kits etc.), rather than becoming known for being such a partisan (especially now that threats have been made and the boycott will continue) and those angered by these actions should have been more measured in their approach and should at this point shut down the boycott.

    If it is at the end all bitterness, hate and the making of enemies rather than creating understanding and building bridges nothing is gained or learned. I have repeated this many times, but I hope it is becoming more clear.

    Steven educated me today on the strength of Liverpool in the 1970's and 1980's. I knew they were great but I had no idea how unprecedented the dominance was. As I said above it must have been such a sense of joy and pride for the people of Liverpool who were suffering so much at that time. The fact they were on one hand figuratively being treated as human waste by the government and then were literally being treated that way by authorities in this incident must be too much pain to bear. I lived through the Rodney King riots and I am surprised you had nothing of that variety that occurred.

    We'll look back on Katrina in shame. Hillsborough is another incident different in nature and scope but what stands out is official indifference, punctuated by a dramatic loss of life that truly punctuates the callousness of it all.

    So there are other options. I hate to be a hippie but love and understanding if toward those we abhor always works best.

  110. I want to say sorry to steven cohen for the comments i made about this subject. It has gone to far and just signifies what babies Liverpool fans are. I am sorry for what I said and wish to move on from these comments. I am idiots, but all these people who initated these boycotts are complete idiotic tools.

  111. Are the Celtic Supporters really boycotting...? I thought this apology is what everyone was looking for! Again when does this end!

  112. And theres no way thats Joe above my post. Unless its a different Joe.

  113. The comments regarding the Steven Cohen controversy have been closed.

    It's time to return the discussion to football.

    The Gaffer


Comments are closed.