In Memory Of The Heysel Stadium Disaster – 32 Years Ago Today

32 years have now passed since the sad events that took place in Brussels, Belgium where 39 football fans were killed, mainly Italian and a further 600 injured.
Italian giants Juventus and one of England’s most successful… Liverpool, were preparing for the season finale. What should have seen European football’s cream of the crop battle it out for the accolade of lifting the famous big earred trophy, turned out to be one of the games worst disasters.

What happened?

Eye witness accounts have spoken of tensions running high amongst rival supporters throughout the day, but nobody expected what was to come.

Liverpool fans were said to be irate following altercations with another Italian club… AS Roma the previous year. This hadn’t left Italian fans in any great light as hooliganism was rife during this particular era. English fans too had been involved in a lot of trouble and hooliganism had been dubbed ‘The English Disease’

Other clubs had shown concern over the state of the Hysel stadium and both clubs are believed to have spoken to UEFA about safety concerns.

Many reports have been compiled over the years with differing accounts from people present. Unbelievably, it has often been referred to as the forgotten tragedy. Below is the write up from wikipedia

Approximately an hour before the Juventus-Liverpool final was due to kick off, Liverpool supporters charged at Juventus fans and breached a fence that was separating them from a “neutral area”. This came after a period of hostility between the two sets of fans which saw missiles thrown from both teams’ supporters. The instigators of violence are still unknown, with varying accounts. Juventus fans ran back on the terraces and away from the threat into a concrete retaining wall. Fans already standing near the wall were crushed; eventually the wall collapsed. Many people climbed over to safety, but many others died or were badly injured. The game was played despite the disaster, with Juventus winning 1–0.

As kick-off approached, the throwing became more intense. Several groups of Liverpool fans broke through the boundary between section X and Z, overpowered the police, and charged at the Juventus fans. The fans began to flee toward the perimeter wall of section Z. The wall could not withstand the force of the fleeing Juventus supporters and a lower portion collapsed.

Contrary to reports at the time, and what is still assumed by many, the collapse of the wall did not cause the 39 deaths. Instead, the collapse relieved pressure and allowed fans to escape. Most died of suffocation after tripping or being crushed against the wall before the collapse. A further 600 fans were also injured. Bodies were carried out from the stadium on sections of iron fencing and laid outside, covered with giant football flags. As police and medical helicopters flew in, the down-draught blew away the modest coverings.

In retaliation for the events in section Z, many Juventus fans then rioted at their end of the stadium. They advanced down the stadium running track to help other Juventus supporters, but police intervention stopped the advance. A large group of Juventus fans fought the police with rocks, bottles and stones for two hours. One Juventus fan was also seen firing a starting gun at Belgian police.

The Aftermath 

Blame was put firmly on Liverpool fans to begin with and after arrests 14 were eventually found guilty of manslaughter. Following a full investigation… Police and authorities were also given a proportion of blame which led to other convictions. 

All English clubs were banned from European competition for 5 years with Liverpool banned for a further year.

Football has moved on since then, but those who never returned to their homes and families will never be forgotten.

May they Rest In Peace

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