A Standing Problem in English Soccer

A Standing Problem in English Soccer

English soccer has dealt with its fair share of problematic fans over the years, from the slightly disorderly to the downright dangerous, from the vaguely obscene to those who chant racist slurs. But a different kind of fan group has been making its voice heard in recent months: those who would rather not sit down.

It's more controversial than it sounds.

Clubs in the top two tiers of English soccer are currently required to have all-seater stadiums. The regulation was the fallout of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster, which saw 96 people die in a decrepit standing area when they were crushed against rigid metal fences. The event attached a permanent stigma to standing sections.

At the time, the official inquiry blamed drunk and ticketless hooligans for the overcrowding. But when an independent panel revisited the incident this fall, it found that the police's mismanagement of the crowd had been the real problem. On Wednesday a court even dismissed the original inquest verdicts of accidental death while the Home Secretary announced a new criminal investigation into the roles of the police and the Football Association in the disaster.

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