The Last Word: Anfield's day to drive out the darkness

Fans can identify a malevolent minority and show football has moved on from the Eighties

Do not defame the dead. Stop parodying people's pain. Behave with human decency. If that really is too much to ask, on a day which will help to set the tone of football's future, darkness has already descended.

There's something karmic about Manchester United providing the opposition as Liverpool, club and city, invites the world to share unimaginable loss and understandable outrage.

A fixture which creates transient tribal heroes, from Norman Whiteside to Jimmy Case, is suddenly central to the legacy of the Hillsborough disaster, and subsequent scandal. It is a chance for cultural, generational change.

The platform is global, but the challenge for the vast majority of supporters at Anfield is uniquely personal. It involves a simple matter of choice: do nothing to stop the sociopaths, or seize the moment.

Self-policing, in helping to identify a malevolent minority, will prevent detractors peddling recycled half-truths and assumptions. It will reinforce the point that the game, and its natural constituency, has moved on from the hand-to-hand urban combat of the Eighties and Nineties.

Rigorous methods were needed then to confront a culture of criminality and hooliganism, but football has gradually become the Chief Constables' cottage industry, a guaranteed income stream in a recession. Policing major matches is ritualistic, lucrative and stuck in a time warp: road blocks for show, riot shields for dough. It leads to mutual antagonism, and perpetuates the myth that a major football match is inevitably a threat to public order. Complacency is inappropriate, since there are still moments of tension, orchestrated outbreaks of trouble, but this is an opportunity to redraw battle lines set in another century.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many fans, especially families, are deterred from attending high-profile away matches, when they are treated with suspicion. They should not have to see the resentment in the eyes of officers who would patently rather be anywhere else, or subject themselves to the casual obscenities of the crowd.

It is possible to recalibrate. The awful truths of Hillsborough should re-educate and re-sensitise us. The nobility of the campaign for justice cannot be expressed in the synthesised X Factor emotions which are increasingly used to frame our experiences.

We, in the media, must take our share of blame for that phenomenon. Europe's finest golfers will this week be invited to win the Ryder Cup "for Seve". The narrative has been set, unwittingly, by former captain Bernard Gallacher, who invoked the Spaniard's spirit when he previewed the bi-annual contest.

Proper respect will be, must be, paid to the influence of Ballesteros in popularising both the cup, and the European tour. He was an incandescent, irresistible character, but honouring his memory is not a fundamental purpose of the exercise.

That will not stop American TV turning his life into a country music song, with soft-focus fist-pumping and images of decline. It is that sanitisation process which makes the timing of the Being: Liverpool documentary series, launched in the UK on Friday, as crass as its content.

Billed as a ground-breaking study of a revered institution, it was a banal advertorial aimed at brand expansion in north America and Asia. At the precise moment Brendan Rodgers must match the magisterial authority of Sir Alex Ferguson, he was portrayed. falsely, as a shallow, jargon-obsessed middle manager.

A little honesty would not go amiss. The Paralympics were a triumph because they were authentically presented and accurately redefined. The temptation to indulge in maudlin self-congratulation was resisted.

Sport attracts because it is a hall of mirrors which distort and, occasionally, flatter. It illustrates the best and worst in human nature. Sometimes, these extremes are concurrent.

Football fans will always seek weakness, a fissure to widen, but we have reached the limits of acceptability. The malcontents seek legitimacy for empty lives. They are the ones who urinate through householders' letter-boxes, harass strangers and mock the sanctity of remembrance.

Drive them out. Make today the day we reclaimed the game.

Racism? It's small change to Platini

Michel Platini is on course to succeed Sepp Blatter as the most powerful man in world football. The fanciful notion, that he is a politician with principles, is about to be tested to destruction.

Platini denies that Uefa, the organisation he is moulding to his will, specialises in trivialising racial abuse. A history of lukewarm responses suggests otherwise.

Inconveniently, he was at White Hart Lane when monkey chants apparently emanated from the Lazio supporters, corralled in the South Stand.

He cannot cite presidential neutrality and the excuse of high office. To retain credibility, he must pro-actively pursue the truth.

The palsied nature of the process does not augur well. The case will not be heard for another month, way beyond the attention span of most observers.

The debate about Platini's much-vaunted, little-trusted Financial Fair Play proposal will dominate. It will be governed by cynicism and self-interest.

Expect Premier League clubs to highlight Paris St Germain's proposed €100 million (almost £80 million) Qatari shirt sponsorship deal, and to question the extravagant backing of Zenit St Petersburg by Gazprom, a Uefa sponsor.

In such a climate of fear and loathing, no one expects renegade Lazio fans to matter that much.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Roy on a loser

Roy Hodgson bemoans the marginalisation of England, because of the commercial muscle of club football. A reality check: are you looking forward to the next international break, when mighty San Marino visit Wembley? Thought not.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower