FSF condemns tabloid coverage of tragic fan death

Cardiff-Mike-Dye.jpg

On Tuesday 6th September Wales fan Mike Dye headed off to Wembley to attend a game of football. Mike never returned home following an incident which is currently the subject of a police manslaughter investigation. The Football Supporters’ Federation would like to put on the record our condemnation of the manner in which this story was reported by certain elements in the media.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragic incident fact, myth, and rumour swirled as events rapidly unfurled. In our view a good journalist would understand this and report the story in a responsible and sensitive manner. Sadly certain tabloid journalists did not share these views and the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Metro, Star, and Sun all ran reports that showed a lack of respect and sensitivity to Mike Dye - a family man and father of three.

We will not dignify the reports by linking to them, suffice to say they all shared common characteristics, particularly in their unpleasant attempts to link the incident to hooliganism despite the police making no such claims. It is not just the FSF that holds these concerns – in a statement released by Cardiff City the club eloquently outlined their thoughts. They have also made a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

Cardiff City said: “It is our view that the tabloid attempts to draw tenuous connections of possible clashes between Cardiff City and Swansea City supporters at the Wales v England match come without any direct evidence or basis for doing so, using this as a means to cite ‘Rivalry fury’.

“This is something that we consider to be extremely disrespectful to both clubs and supporters following many positive steps being taken between both clubs in recent years, specifically in light of the sympathies being shared by both clubs and all supporters over this tragic incident. The club have taken this matter up with the Press Complaints Commission and will be contacting the tabloids named directly in due course.”

It is a stance that has proven very popular among Cardiff City fans. “Absolutely fantastic to see the club taking such a positive stance on this, I don’t think I have ever felt as proud of our club as I have reading that statement,” said castleblue on cardiffcityforum.co.uk.

There is more than one way to report an incident and it is important those journalists who did report responsibly are credited too. This story by the Telegraph’s Graham Clutton is a fine example – it reports the facts and highlights appeals that “rumours and whispers” be stopped. The South Wales Echo and Western Mail were also highlighted by Cardiff City fans as newspapers which did not seek to sensationalise but instead reported in a sensitive and mature manner. If you have seen other examples which you think deserve a mention let us know.

We are also pleased to say that supporters did themselves proud at Saturday’s Cardiff City v Doncaster Rovers game. Fans raised around £10,000 in a pre-game bucket collection and we know Cardiff City supporters are also very appreciative of Rovers fans’ contribution to that too. Bluebirds supporters gathered pre-match at the old Ninian Park gates to pay their respects leaving scores of shirts, flags, and floral tributes. Striker Robert Earnshaw also delivered a wreath on behalf of the club and players.

At the request of Mike Dye’s family the club also held a minute’s applause before Saturday’s Championship fixture. Wales manager Gary Speed was in attendance along with Welsh FA chief executive Jonathan Ford and club chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee. Players from both Cardiff City and Doncaster Rovers also wore black armbands as a sign of their respect.

In a touching tribute defender Anthony Gerrard pulled off his black armband and held in aloft towards City's fans after opening the scoring for the home side. “It’s a big afternoon for the Welsh community after what happened at Wembley,” said Gerrard. “We did them proud as a team. It’s a shame Mikey could not be here, from all accounts, he was a lovely man. That goal was for Mikey and my grandad, who passed away recently.”

FSF chair Malcolm Clarke said: “This was a shocking incident and for a fan to go to a game and never return is almost unimaginable. Then, instead of being able to grieve in peace, Mike Dye’s family and friends had to watch as someone they loved was subjected to an appalling character assassination to which he could not respond. They deserve an apology. As a positive, conciliatory gesture we would also suggest the newspapers consider making a donation to Mike Dye’s funeral fund.”

RIP Mike Dye.

  • If any supporters saw the incident or have relevant information the FSF would urge them to contact the police on 020 8358 0100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
  • If you would like to donate to the Mike Dye funeral fund click here.

Thanks to joncandy for the image in this story.

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