Chelsea F.C. Disowns Fox Host in Ad Boycott

Last Updated Jul 24, 2009 1:22 PM EDT

Chelsea F.C. has disowned Fox Soccer Channel host Steven Cohen over his remarks about the death of 96 Liverpool F.C. fans in a stadium crush in 1989. It is the latest turn in an increasingly strange fight between Cohen, fans of Liverpool who have urged a boycott of him, and the advertisers who have departed his show.

Cohen has repeatedly blamed Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 people were crushed to death at an overcrowded stadium in Sheffield, England, the venue of a cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest F.C.. Cohen discussed the deaths on several shows as part of the 20th anniversary of the event.

Several advertisers -- including Heineken, FourFourTwo magazine, the Fado pub chain and Ruffneck Wear -- pulled out of his Sirius XM radio show in protest of his remarks. Liverpool fans, and a government inquiry, insist the deaths were caused by poor stadium design and lack of communication between officials on the day.

Chelsea has nothing to do with the controversy except that Cohen is a Chelsea fan, frequently wears Chelsea clothing on his show, and often talks about the team. Gareth Mills, a spokesman for Chelsea, said in a statement to LFC New York:
We have distanced ourselves and will continue to distance ourselves from any comments that disrespect the memory of Hillsborough.
We can see no benefit of giving him legitimacy by the club singling him out. Giving Mr. Cohen oxygen is the worst thing we could do. He is not a representative, nor ever has been a representative of the club. We have some 90 million fans worldwide and cannot account for every fan's opinion.
LFCNY said:
Steven Cohen has chosen to denigrate 96 dead Liverpool fans whose only failing was supporting their team. Hillsborough was a tragedy of immense proportions in the game of football, but to this day, Steven Cohen sees it as a way to deride Liverpool fans.
On its own, the move is de minimis. The statement probably won't hurt Cohen financially or have any impact on his advertisers. But football fans will consider it extremely serious as clubs almost never single out individual fans in this way.

Cohen did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. However, Cohen told BNET the campaign against him was "nonsense" and that the people behind it "could not be sadder." His email is posted verbatim after the jump via a link below.

In the past Cohen has argued that the Liverpool fan boycott has created an atmosphere that supresses free speech regarding Hillsborough.

Download the LFCNY Press release in which Chelsea F.C. disowns Steven Cohen here. Download the full text of Cohen's response here. Disclosure: Author is a Liverpool fan. BNET's previous coverage of football advertising:

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