09/13/2012 09:52 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

English Football Association offers full apology for its part in Hillsborough disaster in 1989

LONDON - The English Football Association has offered a "full and unreserved apology" to the city of Liverpool and the families of 96 of the club's fans who died in the Hillsborough stadium tragedy in 1989, Britain's worst sports disaster.

FA chairman David Bernstein says he is "deeply sorry" that the incident happened in a cup semifinal run by English football's governing body and at a ground that didn't have a valid safety certificate.

Bernstein, who wasn't in the FA post at the time, said in a statement Thursday that "nobody should lose their lives when setting out to attend a football match."

Secret papers disclosed on Wednesday from an independent panel said crowd-safety dangers were well known at Hillsborough before Sheffield Wednesday's ground staged the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.