Today’s Crushing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
The Heysel Stadium disaster occurred on May 29, 1985 when escaping fans were pressed against a collapsing wall in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, before the start of the 1985 European Cup Final between Juventus of Italy and Liverpool of England. 39 people—mostly Italians and Juventus fans—were killed and 600 were injured in the confrontation.
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.
The tragedy resulted in all English football clubs being placed under an indefinite ban by UEFA from all European competitions (lifted in 1990–91), with Liverpool being excluded for an additional three years, later reduced to one, and fourteen Liverpool fans found guilty of manslaughter and each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. The disaster was later described as “the darkest hour in the history of the UEFA competitions”.
At approximately 7 p.m. local time, an hour before kick-off, the trouble started. The Liverpool and Juventus supporters in sections X and Z stood merely yards apart. The boundary between the two was marked by temporary chain link fencing and a central thinly policed no-man’s land. Fans began to throw stones across the divide, which they were able to pick up from the crumbling terraces beneath them.
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-draft 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.
Despite the scale of the disaster, UEFA officials, Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, Brussels Mayor Hervé Brouhon, and the city’s police force felt that abandoning the match would have risked inciting further trouble and violence, and the match eventually kicked off after the captains of both sides spoke to the crowd and appealed for calm.
Juventus won the match 1–0 thanks to a penalty scored by Michel Platini, awarded by Swiss referee Daina for a foul against Zbigniew Boniek.
At the end of the game the trophy was given in front of the stadium’s Honor Stand by the confederation president Jacques Georges to Juventus captain Gaetano Scirea. Due to collective hysteria generated by the massive invasion of the pitch by journalists and fans at the end of the match,[ and the chants of fans of both teams in the stands,[ some Italian club players celebrated the title in the middle of the pitch among them and in front of their fans in the M section, while some Liverpool players applauded their fans between the X and Z sections, the stadium’s section affected.
Culled from: Wikipedia
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