Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Manchester United counterpart Erik ten Hag have urged fans to refrain from singing chants about their clubs’ historic tragedies ahead of their match on Sunday.
Liverpool and United meet on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports, but recent matches between the two clubs have been marred by groups of fans singing and mocking the other club’s tragedies including Hillsborough, Heysel and Munich.
Last April’s match at Anfield saw United come out after the match to condemn the “completely unacceptable” chants about Hillsborough from their own fans, which came just days after the anniversary of the tragedy.
Now, Liverpool and United have written a joint open letter, urging fans to think again before singing the chants.
In the statement, Klopp said: “One of the main reasons why the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is so special is that it is so intense and no one should ever want to change this.
“But at the same time, when the rivalry becomes too intense it can go to places that are not good for anyone and we do not need this.
“We do want the noise; we do want the occasion to be partisan and we do want the atmosphere to be electric. What we do not want is anything that goes beyond this and this applies especially to the kind of chants that have no place in football. If we can keep the passion and lose the poison, it will be so much better for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag said: “The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is one of the greatest in world football. We all love the passion of the fans when our teams meet, but there are lines that should not be crossed.
“It is unacceptable to use the loss of life – in relation to any tragedy – to score points, and it is time for it to stop. Those responsible tarnish not only the reputation of our clubs but also, importantly, the reputation of themselves, the fans, and our great cities.
“On behalf of myself, our players, and our staff, we ask our fans to focus on supporting the team on Sunday, and representing our club in the right way.”
The Hillsborough incident of 1989 saw 97 Liverpool fans lose their lives at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium during their FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, in scenes similar to the Heysel tragedy of four years earlier where 39 football supporters were killed in a crowd disaster at the European Cup final between the Merseyside club and Juventus.
Meanwhile, the Munich disaster saw 23 people killed after a flight carrying the Manchester United team back from their European Cup match in Belgrade crashed while trying to take off in Munich-Reim Airport.