Premier League - Police seize 'offensive' United fanzine
Police seized thousands of copies of a Manchester United fanzine outside Old Trafford after it was found to contain a "potentially offensive" image accusing Liverpool Football Club of racism.
Ahead of United’s 2-1 home win over Liverpool, the ‘Red Issue’ fanzine was published with a cut-out mask of a Ku Klux Klan hood doctored to contain the words "LFC Luis Suarez is innocent".
It was in clear mockery of Liverpool's defiant stance over the race row between Suarez and Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra, with police fearing the image could stoke tensions ahead of the game.
Fans were reportedly made to hand in copies of the fanzine on entry to Old Trafford, with several claiming they were turned away after refusing.
Police also arrested a man on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence over a t-shirt which was confiscated - that is also understood to feature the 'hood' image.
After the confiscations, Red Issue - one of the more popular unofficial United magazines - issued a number of statements on Twitter saying it would take legal action against Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and asking all vendors or fans threatened with arrest to register a complaint.
One Red Issue tweet said: "New red issue contains piece criticising gmp behaviour, gmp seize all copies and threaten sellers with arrest. #coincidence"
Chf Supt Mark Roberts said anyone found selling the fanzine or displaying the image would face prosecution.
"Shortly before kick-off we were made aware that a Manchester United supporters' fanzine being sold outside Old Trafford featured a potentially offensive image," he said.
"Officers are now seizing the fanzines and in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service we will take appropriate action against anyone either found selling this particular fanzine or provocatively displaying the image in public.
"Officers have also been made aware of a t-shirt on sale outside the ground that is also deemed to be offensive. We are also seizing these items and anyone found wearing one will be required to remove it and hand it to police.
"At this stage we have arrested one man in relation to the t-shirts on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence and we will be continuing to work with the clubs to minimise the impact of the image, which we consider to be offensive.
"I have taken this course of action as both items are potentially offensive and we cannot be in a situation where hundreds or thousands of people were displaying offensive images at a football match.
"The consequences of taking no action could have resulted in public order incidents inside or outside the ground."
The match was marred anyway as Suarez refused to shake the hand of Frenchman Evra, which was followed by United captain Rio Ferdinand snubbing the Uruguayan. There were also altercations in the tunnel at half-time and on the pitch after the match.
Suarez was banned for eight games and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Evra in the reverse clash at Anfield in November.
Liverpool continued to support their player after the ban, with Suarez also protesting his innocence and blaming Evra for making a complaint over his conduct.
There have since been two incidents of an allegedly racial nature involving fans at Liverpool matches, with men arrested after the FA Cup wins over Oldham and Manchester United in January.