Statement from Football Association chairman David Bernstein following the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel:
On behalf of The Football Association, I would like to personally take this opportunity to make a statement following yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
96 people lost their lives at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 23 years ago.
We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue The FA selected.
This fixture was played in The FA’s own competition, and on behalf of The Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the City of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club.
This should never have happened. Nobody should lose their lives when setting out to attend a football match and it is a matter of extreme regret and sadness that it has taken so long for these findings to be published and the truth to be told.
For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain and we have profound sympathy for them.
I would like to commend the professional work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, while also recognising the tireless commitment shown by so many people in maintaining the fight for justice, particularly the family support groups.
The FA has cooperated fully with the Independent Panel throughout this process and has released all documentation in line with their requests. I would also like to make clear that we will of course fully cooperate with any further inquiry.
The FA and English football has changed immeasurably, and learnt many lessons in the last 23 years. Through advancements in safety and investment in facilities English football is now a much safer, more welcoming environment for supporters.
The chairman of the Football Association, David Bernstein, is the latest to apologise after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report into the tragedy which claimed 96 lives on 15 April 1989.
Bernstein’s apology follows similar statements from prime minister David Cameron, on behalf of the government; Sheffield Wednesday FC; chief constable of the South Yorkshire police, David Crompton; London Mayor Boris Johnson – for the story he published in the Spectator in 2004 – and the former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, for the paper’s shameful coverage of the aftermath of the tragedy.
The report found that supporters were not at fault for the disaster and revealed that a police coverup had tried to shift blame onto the victims themselves.
The long overdue apologies from all quarters mark a turning point in the way Hillsborough is viewed and will be welcomed by families of the victims but this is still feels like the beginning of the road.
A criminal investigation into the police handling of the disaster must happen, an ex-chief constable of the South Yorkshire force has said, while both victims’ families and politicians have called for urgent action on the report, which also found that 41 of the 96 could have survived if emergencies services had arrived on the scene quicker.
There have been also been calls for fresh inquests into the deaths, which were recorded as accidental by the original inquests in 1990 and 1991.
The long road to justice continues.