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Tom Elliott's Hillsborough disaster comments spark Twitter furore

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 5 February, 2013 - 6:04 PM
Tom Elliott

Tom Elliott has defended his comments regarding the 1989 Hillsborough disaster which sparked outrage in the Twitterverse, saying he never claimed the tragic incident was caused by fan violence.

Fox Sports presenter Adam Peacock was prompted to call the Drive program after noticing the issue had gained momentum on Twitter, with angry soccer fans demanding apologies from the 3AW host.

Tom Elliott denied allegations made by Twitter users who purported he claimed the disaster, in which 96 people died, had been the fault of the fans.

The victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster lost their lives in the crush of fans at Leppings Lane terrace at Sheffield Wednesday Hillsborough ground after police opened an exit gate in order to relieve congestion, prompting fans to flood into an already overcrowded area.

READ: New Hillsborough inquiry to study police role

The issue follows Tom Elliott's comments yesterday where he questioned the behaviour of fans at the Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne Heart derby which left 170 seats damaged at Etihad Stadium.

Tom Elliott said the reason the A-League supporters were driven to anti-social antics was because soccer was 'dull' and 'boring', with AFL supporters well-behaved in comparison.

READ: Tom Elliott thinks soccer is a boring game

Speaking with Fox Sports' Adam Peacock, Tom Elliott said all he did was simply raise the issue of the deaths and questioned the need to segregate fans from rival clubs.

"What I remember reading at the time, because I lived in the UK then, was that they crammed too many people into a too-small section of the ground and part of the problem was that they had to put a lot of Liverpool fans…into a section of the ground...that was far too small," he said.

LISTEN: Tom Elliott speaks with Fox Sports' Adam Peacock

"All I simply said was why is it that they have to separate people like this? That was the question I asked."

Adam Peacock told Tom Elliott due to the gravity of the Hillsborough disaster, the issue wasn't something the Drive host should comment on unless he was fully informed.

"It was a very horrible lesson to learn, a very touchy subject and something that you probably shouldn't guess and...if you don't know the full facts (because) it (was) such a horrible situation," he said.

Adam Peacock said the passion evoked by the game required rival supporters to sit separately all across the globe. The TV sports presenter claimed same would occur in the AFL, citing the prospect of Carlton fans sitting together with the cheer squad of their most bitter rivals, Collingwood, inevitably leading to anti-social behaviour.

"Surely it's the wrong sort of passion where you can't sit next to your fellow supporter who just might support a different team," Tom Elliott said.

"You're from Sydney, so you obviously don't understand.

"Collingwood and Carlton fans do sit together.

"You don't need to segregate fans at the AFL, it's the truth."

Tom Elliott noted that as an avid Carlton supporter, in the hundreds of matches he had been to not once had a flare been let off by fans.

HOW IT STARTED:

The furore was initially sparked after a conversation between Tom Elliott and caller ‘Roy’.

LISTEN: Tom Elliott speaks with Roy

Roy: “My son played soccer in his early years and I tried to be an intelligent spectator. I think it's very much a players' sport."

"The people on the field are totally concentrated, they have to have great skills.

"But there's no other sport where spectators have died in such huge numbers; No other sport matches it.”

Tom Elliott: "There was that British stadium collapse in the late 80s, Sheffield I think it was, where over a hundred people died, Roy."

Martin was then moved to call Tom Elliott, seeking to clarify that the Hillsborough incident was in no way related to violent fans.

LISTEN: Tom Elliott speaks with Martin

Martin: "You did relate to an incident which happened in England between Liverpool at Hillsborough."

"Now that was nothing to do with soccer violence. You do have to respect what actually happened there.

"I happen to know a lot of people who passed away there, and for you to sort of think that that's anything to do with soccer violence is not right.

"So please go and have a look at the history of it and see why it happened and I think you probably owe most of the Liverpool FC fans a bit of an apology."

Tom Elliott said he acknowledge the level of tragedy involved with the disaster.

"I agree it was a terrible accident, so if you think it's appropriate to apologise, I will apologise," he said.

Tom Elliott then replied: "Part of the problem was caused by the fact that the fans had to be segregated into different parts of the ground, and the part that the Liverpool fans had to go to in Sheffield was not big enough to hold them."

For the full program, download the Tom Elliott Drive podcast

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Blog comments Your Say

  • "and the part that the Liverpool fans had to go to in Sheffield was not big enough to hold them.""

    It was way big enough. What was wrong that the ground was UNSAFE. I got crushed there the season before when the ground was only two thirds full.

    Mike Smith Thursday 25 July, 2013 - 10:37 AM
  • Who cares. Any topic to do with sports is boring in my opinion anyway. Most sports fans are way too passionate about what is essentially a stupid game of men running after a ball like the whole word depends on them. Heros! Have a good hard look at yourselves, get a useful hobby instead of wasting your time watching meat head morons.

    Andrew Wilkerson Wednesday 6 February, 2013 - 2:26 PM
  • To MARCO and ELLIOT. You're idiots.

    Eddy Wednesday 6 February, 2013 - 1:35 PM
  • When I book my tickets to take my family to a Melbourne Victory game, no were does it ask me what club I'm from, over the years we have sat next to or around opposition fans the only segregation is the cheer squads (same as AFL) and no doubt there is some people who need to be weeded out there, but donĂ¢??t lump us all into the same category as those few.

    Darren Wednesday 6 February, 2013 - 1:07 PM
  • Brian you were late last year, were you not?

    steven Wednesday 6 February, 2013 - 11:22 AM
  • Sructinise world football...but also apply the same scrutiny to AFL drug scandal this arvo too. Fair's fair.

    Rocky Wednesday 6 February, 2013 - 9:49 AM

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