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Leeds fans and legends call for end to tragedy chanting

31 Mar 2023
Leeds Elland Road general view

Fans close to two supporters killed in Istanbul 23 years ago condemn tragedy chanting by fans

Ahead of a memorial commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the killing of two Leeds United supporters in Istanbul, family and friends of those murdered fans as well as club legends have called for the end to "tragedy chanting".

Kevin Speight, 40, and Christopher Loftus, 37, lost their lives after being stabbed ahead of the UEFA Cup semi-final with Galatasaray on 5 April, 2000.

In an emotional video the brother of Loftus, Andy, and a friend, Gareth Senior, recall the horrors of that evening they spent in the Turkish city.

They and ex-Leeds players Eddie Gray, Dominic Matteo and Michael Bridges also talk about the wonderful way that fans from rivals and around the world showed their support in the wake of the murders.

They are calling for that support to continue 23 years later with the eradication of "tragedy chanting", where fans conducts chants at stadiums and post online abuse relating to tragic events around football matches such as Istanbul, Munich, Heysel and Hillsborough.

Such behaviour, they say, is unacceptable. 

“As a young kid I probably chanted and said a lot of things myself at different games,” says Andy Loftus. “I don’t think you realise the implications of what you are doing really.

“It might be a few words but in the background, the families are suffering, and also the friends and other fans are suffering, it is massive to us.”

Senior says such chants do nothing apart from upset and hurt people close to those who died.

“There are a lot of families and kids involved," he adds. “We lost two great lads, the impact of that is the same as for those poor families of the Liverpool supporters, that lost 97 loved ones in Hillsborough.

"Just because the numbers aren’t as big doesn’t lessen the impact on the families.”

Leeds will be holding a memorial for Speight and Loftus on 5 April at Elland Road.

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