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Football reacts to Hillsborough Inquest verdict of unlawful killing

Published 26/04/2016

The jury at the Hillsborough Inquest has concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed
The jury at the Hillsborough Inquest has concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed

Football united on Tuesday following an inquest jury ruling that the 96 victims who died in the Hillsborough disaster had been unlawfully killed.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the reaction from key figures and across social media.

:: Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge, who scored in the 1989 final win over Everton at Wembley, speaking to the Liverpool Echo: "Today's verdicts are a complete, and absolutely deserved, vindication for the victims, for the survivors, the families, and for Liverpool fans and the city as a whole. This, for me, is the biggest victory in the history of the club. And it's got nothing to do with football."

:: Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, whose cousin, 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest victim of the tragedy, posted a tribute on Instagram, showing the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield alongside the words: ''JFT 96 #YNWA''

:: Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre said in a statement on the club's website: ''After 27 long years the true verdict has finally been delivered, confirming what the families always believed - their loved ones were unlawfully killed. Liverpool Football Club welcomes the jury's decision, once and for all, that our supporters were not in any way responsible for what happened at Hillsborough. We will always remember the selfless bravery and heroism of the many fans that helped their fellow supporters in the most harrowing of circumstances that day. We praise those who, since the beginning of the inquest, have had to find the courage and strength to re-live what they went through. Since April 15, 1989, the solidarity shown by Liverpool fans towards the families and survivors encapsulates the unique character of both the club and city. The 96 men, women and children who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough will never be forgotten.''

:: Liverpool chairman Tom Werner released a statement, adding: "We have been moved and inspired by the great courage shown by the families and survivors. We feel deep sorrow for their loss, take inspiration from their campaign and express gratitude for bringing honour to the club through their conduct during this cruelly prolonged process."

:: England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, who was born in Liverpool and played for rivals Everton, wrote on Twitter: ''At last justice for the 96 and their families. Well done to all who never gave up #jft96''

:: Former England striker Michael Owen, who came through the youth ranks at Anfield before starring for the senior side, posted on Twitter: ''Just landed from China and catching up with the news. Finally and way, way, way overdue, the truth prevails and justice is served. #jft96.''

:: Everton FC put a special post on their own website, reading: ''Everton Football Club salutes the Hillsborough families and their total vindication as Fighters for Justice. Theirs is the greatest victory in the history of football. 'RIP, the 96. Good night, God bless. From us across the Park.''

:: Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, now in charge at Newcastle, added a message of support in a statement. He said: ''After so many years fighting for justice I am really pleased to see the verdict today, which confirms what we have been saying for a long time. I am especially pleased for the families of the 96 who have sought justice for so long and with such dignity, as well as for the people of Liverpool and for football fans in general. Hopefully this verdict today will ensure that this kind of tragedy can never happen again.''

:: The Football Association said in a statement: " Ultimately, the Inquests stand as testament to the struggle undertaken by the families so the truth might be brought to light. While much has changed since 1989, The FA and English football in general must continue to recognise, remember and learn from the tragedy. In looking forward, it is important we never forget. It is in the interests of all concerned that further consideration of the disaster by the relevant authorities must be allowed to take its course.''

:: Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: ''Landmark day as the #Hillsborough inquest provides long overdue justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the tragic disaster. I would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage of #Hillsborough campaigners in their long search for the truth.''

:: Michael Mansfield QC, who represented 77 of the families of the victims, told Sky Sports News this is not the end of the process. "The families want accountability," he said. "It's one thing to get the truth and a form of justice here, but you want people to be made accountable for their actions. There are two investigations, one by the Police - Operation Resolve - looking at the events leading up to the day and on the day and what offences may have been committed by a number of different individuals. In addition, there's events after the day, which includes the cover-up and the lies that were told - were there offences there, and who committed them? The Independent Police Complaints Commission are looking at that."

:: Former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch, now with Stoke, wrote: "The only city I know that would stick together for so long to get the justice they deserve is liverpool . #JFT96."

:: Former Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles tweeted: "J ustice for the 96. Never forgotten. #LFC #JFT96 #YNWA"

:: Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who oversaw the newspaper when it published a story blaming Liverpool fans for the disaster, said in a statement: ''Today's verdicts are an important step in obtaining justice for the victims. My heart goes out to those who have waited so long for vindication. As I have said before, the headline I published was wrong and I am profoundly sorry for the hurt it caused."

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