Fox Host Says Advertiser Boycott Over Remarks About Soccer Fan Deaths Has Hurt His Show

Last Updated Jun 5, 2009 12:48 PM EDT

Fox Soccer Channel host Steve Cohen says he has been "hurt" financially by an advertiser boycott of his Sirius satellite radio show, and has created a fundraising web page to support his business. Separately, Cohen's business filing status with California appears to be suspended, according to a state web site.

The boycott was called for by American fans of Liverpool F.C. who are infuriated at a series of comments Cohen made on his show about the death of 96 fans in a stadium crush 20 years ago. In those comments, Cohen called Liverpool fans "murderers," "disgraceful" and "vile," and has compared them to Nazis, terrorists and the Taliban.

BNET published a story explaining why the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 1989 is affecting advertisers on Fox and Sirius's World Soccer Daily on May 15. Cohen's online "begging bowl" has so far raised just $4,670, at the time of writing. Cohen's appeal says:

... a small group of people who disagree with some of the opinions stated by WSD hosts have decided to launch a smear campaign against the sponsors and public in order to get the show shut down. ... A donation to WSD goes directly to keeping WSD on the air ...
It also claims a percentage of the donations will go to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, a group that supports the families of the victims. The campaign, however, has said it will not take Cohen's money, according to Prost Amerika Soccer blog.

Prost quoted Cohen saying on his show:

I don't think it would be possible to sit here and say we haven't been hurt by this. We have been. There's no question about it. We have been. Revenue has dropped. In the traditional fashion of NPR, there's a button on our website now that says support World Soccer Daily, where you can now go and help support this show while we go through this reasonably difficult time...
Prost also noted that Cohen's original text on his fundraising page merely inflamed the controversy further:
This is the United States and if these people were operating out of the Middle East we would call them terrorists -- lets show them that we are not effected or intimidated by a bunch of thugs who are behaving like the Taliban.
The controversy between Cohen and Liverpool fans stems from Cohen's opinions about what happened at a 1989 F.A. Cup game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest F.C. at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. Cohen has repeatedly argued that thousands of ticketless fans forcing their way into the stadium caused 96 Liverpool fans to be crushed to death, but a government inquiry blamed the police and the design of the stadium. It also found there were very few ticketless fans. Cohen has apologized for causing offense, but he has not retracted his assertions that the fans were to blame. Liverpool fans have beseiged Cohen's advertisers with emails demanding they stop sponsoring his radio show and Fox Football Fone-In, a TV show on Fox Soccer Channel.

In unrelated news, Cohen's business Soccer Weekly Inc., is listed as "suspended" by the Secretary of State for California's web site. Soccer Weekly Inc. is the owner of World Soccer Daily.

After the jump: A list of links to YouTube videos highlighting Cohen's remarks about Liverpool and Hillsborough.

Links to YouTube videos containing Cohen's remarks about Liverpool and Hillsborough.
  1. Cohen calls LFC fans "murderers", October 27, 2008
  2. Cohen describes Hillsborough as "a tragedy of their own doing," February 22, 2009
  3. Cohen blames ticketless fans, April 13, 2009
  4. Cohen calls Liverpool fans "disgraceful, vile" for "milking the cow," April 16, 2009
  5. Cohen describes Hillsborough memorials as "Our tragedy is worse than your tragedy so boo hoo," April 17, 2009
  6. Cohen reads an apology for "this crap," Monday, May 18, 2009
  7. Calls LFC fans "Nazis" and reads some anti-semitic hatemail he has received, May 20, 2009