While I was away, a friend told me about this story concerning football 'shock jock' Steven Cohen and his foolish comments regarding the Hillsborough tragedy.
I'm not a Liverpool fan. But I can certainly sympathize with their anger regarding his comments.
So what happened? Here's a detailed account of the story by the Los Angeles Daily News.
On April 15, 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died when one end of Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, became overcrowded at the start of an FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
A crush ensued as too many people were allowed to enter two sections of the stadium, and victims were pushed up against perimeter fencing that kept them from jumping to safety on the field.
An official inquiry was conducted in England and produced the Taylor Report, which blamed poor policing for the tragedy and recommended the removal of standing-only areas and perimeter fencing."When people go to games without tickets and liquored up and 96 tragically die, at some point the fans have to share responsibility. You can't just blame the police," Cohen said.
"I'm not saying they went with evil in their hearts to do it. Liverpool brought the same number of fans as the year before (to Hillsborough) even though they were at the smaller end of the stadium this time.
"I have expressed an opinion that there was a shared responsibility."
As the story details:
Unfortunately for Cohen, an American-based soccer Web site picked up the story and said he "solely" blamed Liverpool's fans for the tragedy. Since then, he's received hundreds of death threats, threats to kidnap his fiancee's children and threats to burn down his house.
"It's spread like a virus," he said.
Cohen estimates more than 3,500 e-mails were sent to his show regarding the controversy.
"I've seen the Taliban less defensive," Cohen said. "If this was being done in Afghanistan or Pakistan, we'd call these people terrorists. A lot of them are little cowards hiding behind their computers.
"(But) I feel my life and my livelihood is at stake."
Some e-mails compare Cohen's comments to blaming the victims in the World Trade Center for Sept. 11.
"You almost wonder what they are protesting so much?" Cohen said. "Why do they care so much about what some nebbish in California in a soccer wasteland thinks? This is terror tactics from one club's fans that are hypersensitive."
A boycott organized by Liverpool supporter clubs in the USA is doing some damage.
FourFourTwo, a respected soccer magazine based in England, pulled its advertising, along with Fado, a chain of 14 Irish pubs in the United States.
Cohen (pictured,above) is a known instigator. He comes across as combative on his radio show and is known for trying to stir the pot and cause controversy. He may have gone too far this time.
Here's the official statement from the Liverpool FC New York Supporter's Club:
On the 15th of April 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough due to police incompetence and inaction. It has been criminally negligent homicide. To this day, not a single person has been held responsible for this atrocity.
The death of these 96 fellow supporters is as much part of the DNA of Liverpool Football Club as any one of the 18 League Championships or 5 European Cups. These 96 were our fellow fans. Over the years, the fight for justice for the 96 has been constantly waged without much success. Over the years also, some in the media have found reason to lie about what really happened, despite the publication of the official report, The Taylor Report. The S*n newspaper in particular comes to mind.
Unfortunately there are also those in the USA who are looking to further themselves and their careers on the back of the deaths of our fellow fans. Your fellow fans.
Steve Cohen, who appears on Fox Football Phone In and on World Soccer Daily on Sirius, is attempting to make a name for himself slandering all Liverpool fans and the 96 in particular. Some years ago he made baseless claims and retracted them after protests. His apologies were all qualified. This time out he was at it again, claiming that Liverpool fans killed their own by turning up ticketless, a lie refuted by The Taylor Report. In follow up complaints, Cohen responded by linking Hillsborough with Heysel, with murdering Liverpool fans as the common theme. As Liverpool fans we cannot allow this atrocity to stand.
If Steve Cohen wants to smear all of us Liverpool fans with these lies, then let us exact a price on him. We want him gone off the air. Gone from Fox, gone from Sirius, gone from the airwaves. The LFCNY and all the North American Supporters' Branches recommend that you email Steve Cohen's advertisers, letting them know that you will not be using any of their services as long as they financially support this person. Below are a list of those advertisers.
And if you think that campaigns like this never accomplish much, we already have had success with the magazine 442 and the sportswear company 365-inc. agreeing already, before any campaign has really begun, to pull their advertising for this odious person. We want to be seen as responsive, so we also encourage everyone to email 442 and 365-inc. to thank them for supporting this campaign.
Email to sponsors of Steve Cohen:
To whom it may concern,
You advertise on either or both of Steve Cohen's shows on Fox and Sirius. Steve Cohen has, and not for the first time, told lies about the deaths the 96 fans at Hillsborough, claiming that Liverpool fans were responsible for killing their own, amongst other lies. Is this the type of person you want representing your company? Steve Cohen has done this before, apologising when the outrage grew too large. Clearly, he will not stop, so our objective is to see him being put off air permanently.
I urge you to reconsider your purchasing of advertising.
I will be boycotting all your products and services until your support for Steve Cohen and his lies ends.
Jack The Lad
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Who Are Ya Designs
Email thanking the sponsors supporting the campaign:
To whom it may concern,
I would like to congratulate and thank you on supporting the ongoing boycott of Steve Cohen for spreading lies about the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough. It is wonderful to see such corporate responsibility these days.
Whenever I have the chance, I will buy and recommend your products and services as my way of showing support for your company.
World Soccer Daily ShopFour Four Two Magazine