The campaign to free Michael Shields from prison in Bulgaria continues as Liverpool and their fans prepare for a trip to the country.
Feelings are strong amongst all Liverpool supporters – Michael insists he was sleeping in bed when Graham Sankey was carrying out a brutal attack on Martin Georgiev, in the Bulgarian Golden Sands resort. Even though Sankey has admitted to being the perpetrator of the attack, the Bulgarian authorities have shown complete lack of regard for the freedom of Michael. Sankey won’t travel to Bulgaria to face the music, but the Bulgarian authorities don’t seem to mind because they give the impression that Michael will do. The injustice in all of this is breathtaking, the lack of action from senior British politicians even more so. Tony Blair’s wife Cherie is a Liverpool fan – yet Blair has gone on holiday without passing any comment on Michael’s plight. Michael Howard, a Liverpool fan himself and leader of the Tory party, has also been deafeningly silent. Why? If the politicians have good reason not to help Michael, why not explain it to us?
For any Reds travelling out there, no matter how upset you are at the injustice, the best way to show the people of Bulgaria that their legal system has made a huge mistake is to show all of those watching just how friendy Liverpool fans are. Michael’s father, also called Michael, said: "What I ask and what I plead for is that Liverpool fans show dignity towards the fans of CSKA Sofia and the people of Bulgaria. This is about a football match between two great cities, two great clubs and two brilliant sets of supporters. This match isn’t about Michael Shields."
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Mr Shields also said: "Let’s make it a carnival atmosphere in Sofia and show the whole world what Liverpool supporters are really about and when the Sofia fans travel to Anfield in a fortnight’s time, let’s prove that we really are the best and friendliest fans in football. Let’s welcome the Bulgarian people to Liverpool with open arms and make them feel really welcome. We want both sets of fans to have a drink, have a laugh and enjoy themselves in a spirit of friendship."
He continued: "What’s happened in Bulgaria in May has tarnished the name of Liverpool fans but this is our chance to show everyone what Liverpool people are all about. Any trouble in Bulgaria when Liverpool travel away will make Michael’s situation worse."
And a final word for anyone travelling who cares about Michael: "If one fan gets into trouble then he is no friend of Michael. In fact, we wouldn’t want their name to be mentioned with Michael’s in the same sentence because that is not what he’s about. Please, please behave for Michael’s sake."
If you want to help Michael don’t forget to keep visiting the freemichaelshields.org website.