After celebrating with rock star Noel Gallagher following Sunday’s English Premier League title win in Brighton, City players jumped on a plane for the trophy presentation outside the club’s Etihad Stadium.
On the journey back to Manchester, City’s players were understandably in high spirits having pipped rivals Liverpool to the title by a single point, with social media video footage showing the Premier League trophy being carried back by the team on board.
A video clip widely distributed on social media appears to show City players and other members of the club singing a version of an anti-Liverpool song popular with Manchester fans this season.
The chant seems to reference Liverpool fans as “crying in the stands, and battered in the streets” who are “victims of it all”.
In recent seasons the two clubs have become intense rivals. Last season, Liverpool reached the Champions League final after beating City in the quarterfinals. This season, Liverpool pushed City all the way in the Premier League title race, before falling short on the final day of the season. Liverpool last won the league title in 1990.
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The video has been viewed nearly two million times on Twitter but the way it’s shot makes it difficult to see which players or staff participated in the raucous chant.
Some critics have suggested the song mocks the 1989 Hillsborough disaster or Sean Cox — a Liverpool fan who suffered life-threatening injuries after an attack outside the Merseyside club’s Anfield stadium before the Champions League semi-final against Roma in 2018.
The Manchester club issued a statement on Wednesday, saying “the song in question, which has been a regular chant during the 2018-19 season, refers to the 2018 UEFA Champions League final in Kiev. Any suggestion that the lyrics relate to Sean Cox or the Hillsborough tragedy is entirely without foundation.”
One Liverpool fan described the song on Twitter as “a classless chant from Man City fans. That the players sang it on that video is just baffling. As is the fact that people are defending it.”
Sean Cox’s brother Martin gave an interview to a Liverpool radio station saying the song “disgusted” him.
“Singing and chanting those words, it’s like it gives the impression that it’s okay for people to carry out attacks like that on people in the streets,” Martin Cox told Radio City on Wednesday.
“It’s a matter very close to our hearts and whether they say it’s about Sean or not, the first thing I think about is Sean being attacked.”
He added: “It wasn’t long ago that a Manchester City fan was attacked in Germany, so why they think it’s okay to sing songs about people being attacked on the streets when one of their own was attacked not long ago is very naive.”
One Manchester City fan tweeted: “Anyone bored of these Liverpool fans crying over a harmless song?” adding: “do you honestly believe when those City players were … singing that song they were knowingly and purposefully insulting Hillsborough and Sean Cox?”
Liverpool supporter Cox is still recovering in Ireland from injuries he sustained after being assaulted by a Roma fan in April 2018.
Earlier this year, the Merseyside club also marked the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster when overcrowding in the stands led to the death of 96 fans in a crush. Another 162 were hospitalized with injuries.
Liverpool has yet to publicly comment on the video.