Maurizio Sarri has urged Chelsea supporters to respect Liverpool’s tributes to the Hillsborough victims this weekend.
Liverpool host Chelsea in Sunday’s Premier League action at Anfield, the day before the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off in memory of the 96 people who died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
In a week when three Chelsea supporters were denied entry to the Blues’ Europa League clash at Slavia Prague on Thursday for their involvement in a social media video racially abusing Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, head coach Sarri believes the fans will pay their rightful respects.
“I think it’s really a very good opportunity for our fans,” said Sarri.
“I didn’t want to speak about the video because, as I said, I didn’t see it, so it’s not right in my opinion to speak about something you don’t know.
“But for our supporters it’s a great opportunity. I’m sure that 99 per cent of our fans will have a very great day in Liverpool.”
Fans at Anfield will reveal special mosaics on Sunday, while both teams will wear black armbands and tributes will be displayed on LED boards surrounding the pitch.
On Monday, Liverpool’s players and staff will hold a minute’s silence at 3.06pm to respect the 30th anniversary itself.
Marcos Alonso’s late header sealed a 1-0 win at Slavia for Chelsea, but off-field issues again dominated proceedings in Prague.
The Blues will now seek to ban the six supporters involved in the video in which they abused Salah; the trio who attempted to enter the Sinobo Stadium were turned away by Chelsea’s security team.
Stamford Bridge bosses will continue to track down others involved, with their swift work leading to praise from football’s equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out.
Chelsea branded the discriminatory video “abhorrent” and an “embarrassment” to the club in a statement on Thursday night.
Liverpool Football Club statement.https://t.co/sSGj4ggtks
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 11, 2019
France’s World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud firmly backed his club’s stance, insisting Salah would be able to shut out the abuse.
“It shouldn’t happen. Nowadays one time is too many, one more time is too much, so it is unacceptable,” said Giroud.
“These guys don’t belong to Chelsea and it’s a shame that it happened again. We condemn this kind of thing.
“It’s stupid to do that and I think Salah is strong enough to ignore them and we need to move forward and leave these people on the side.
“Of course, it’s a very small minority and we are proud of most of our fans who were a great support again in Prague.”
Four Chelsea supporters were suspended by the club for abusing Raheem Sterling during Manchester City’s 2-0 Premier League win at Stamford Bridge on December 8.
Club statement. https://t.co/tMqiV6H53Z
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 11, 2019
Then Chelsea condemned anti-Semitic chanting by Blues fans during the club’s 2-2 Europa League draw at MOL Vidi on December 13.
A Chelsea statement at the time branded that chanting “abhorrent”, saying it “shamed the club”. The Blues avoided punishment, however, after UEFA ended disciplinary proceedings over the incident in February.
Chelsea continue to run the high-profile ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ campaign.