Monday, April 14, 2014

Bulletin: The Hillsborough Disaster; ESPN broadcasts TV documentary which cannot be aired in the U.K., because of the on-going inquest and strict contempt of court laws. The film says police tried to cover up their crowd-control errors by convincing people that alcohol was top blame - and how the first coroner went as far as taking the blood alcohol of every victim (even children), and those over the legal driving limit then had criminal background checks done. Airing (Tuesday April 15, 2014) at 8 p.m. ET.

STORY:  "ESPN's  '30 for 30: Soccer stories' tells the horror of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster," by reporter Debbie Emery, published by The Hollywood Reporter on April 10, 2014.

SUB-HEADING:  "The feature-length doc, which cannot currently be aired  in the U.K., reveals devastating details of the incident on April 15, 1989, that resulted in 96 fans being crushed to death during a match."

GIST:  "Rather than just celebrating the love of the game, the first episode, titled Hillsborough (airing on April 15), takes on one of the darkest days in European football in a documentary that can't be aired in the U.K. due to a new inquest launched 25 years after the incident and strict contempt of court laws.........British director Daniel Gordon grew up going to the matches in the ill-fated stadium with his dad and was even meant to be there that fateful day, so he was a natural choice for ESPN and vp of ESPN Films and Original Content Connor Schell to make the documentary..........Another key aspect of the story that he felt compelled to include is the "mutual distrust between police and football fans" during an era that was notorious for hooliganism. "The police did a really good job of convincing people that alcohol was to blame," says Gordon. The film tells how the first coroner went as far as taking the blood alcohol of every victim (even children), and those over the legal driving limit then had criminal background checks done. "It was always a red herring, to blame the fans and shift the responsibility," he says.........The initial inquest returned a verdict of "accidental death" in March 1991, which many families refused to accept, "Some have never collected the death certificate because they don't believe it was accidental," Gordon tells THR. ........Through the uncovering of previously hidden documents and statements that were allegedly doctored and altered, the Hillsborough Independent Panel (which included Professor Phil Scraton, who is featured in the film) concluded in 2012 that fans were not responsible for the disaster. That has led to the new inquest that is expected to take a year, following which there might be criminal prosecutions. "But that'll be over a quarter of a century after the fact," explains the director. "You have 96 families -- just to see the numbers of people filing into a courtroom and to realize they’ve been doing this for 25 years is devastating."

Hillsborough airs  Tuesday: April 15 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN to kick off the sports network's soccer series.

The entire story can be found at:

World Soccer Talk interview with director Daniel Gordon:


“Hillsborough is the most important soccer story of my generation,” said director Daniel Gordon. “What began as a day of expectancy turned into a quite unimaginable tragedy, the horror and pain of which have not diminished with time, as families and survivors have sought – and been denied – justice. As we approach the 25th anniversary of the disaster, I felt that now was the right time to look at the whole story, from the day, through the immediate aftermath and the now quarter century of the fight for justice. As a soccer fan who followed his team home and away in the era, I know that could easily have been me on that day and I hope I’ve done the story justice.”
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