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The Heysel Stadium disaster was an event that took place at the 1985 football European Cup final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.
On 29 May 1985, Liverpool played Juventus in the European Cup final. In a widely criticized move, the Belgian authorities had allocated a section of the ground to neutral fans. This was an idea opposed by Liverpool and Juventus, as it would easily provide an arena for fans who obtained tickets from Belgian ticket touts outside the ground to clash.
A flimsy wire fence had been erected to segregate the fans. After a rain of missiles from the Italian fans inside the neutral area fell upon the Liverpool fans, the Liverpool fans charged at and breached the fence. In an attempt to retreat from the advancing English fans, the Juventus fans ran to the far end of the Western End, where a concrete wall blocked their retreat. The huge load and pressure that resulted from the sheer numbers of people gathered proved too much for the wall and eventually it gave way, falling directly upon the trapped Italian fans. 39 people (1 Belgian and 38 Italian) lost their lives.
Juventus later won the match 1-0.
As a direct result of this event, The Football Association banned English clubs from participating in UEFA competitions for six years. Some believe it was a move to avoid a heavier penalty from UEFA.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was the Heysel Stadium Disaster?
The Heysel Stadium Disaster was a tragic event that occurred on May 29, 1985, at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, during the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. A wall collapsed under the pressure of fleeing fans trying to escape a surge by Liverpool supporters, resulting in the deaths of 39 people, mostly Juventus fans, and injuring over 600. The disaster led to widespread changes in stadium safety and crowd control measures.
What caused the Heysel Stadium Disaster?
The disaster was primarily caused by a charge of Liverpool fans towards a section filled with Juventus supporters. The inadequate segregation between rival fans and the dilapidated state of the stadium contributed to the tragedy. The subsequent panic and attempt to escape the violence led to the fatal collapse of a stadium wall. Investigations highlighted the lack of proper policing and event organization as contributing factors.
What were the consequences of the Heysel Stadium Disaster for English football?
Following the Heysel Stadium Disaster, English clubs were banned from European competition for five years, with Liverpool receiving an additional year's ban. This decision by UEFA was a significant blow to English football, both in terms of international prestige and financial revenue. The disaster also prompted a major overhaul of stadium safety standards and the treatment of football hooliganism as a serious issue.
How did the Heysel Stadium Disaster change stadium safety?
In the aftermath of the Heysel Stadium Disaster, there was a significant push to improve stadium safety across Europe. The UK's Taylor Report, which was commissioned after another tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989, led to the requirement that top-division teams have all-seater stadiums, improved crowd control measures, and better facilities. These changes aimed to prevent a repeat of such disasters and ensure the safety of spectators.
Were there any legal repercussions following the Heysel Stadium Disaster?
Yes, there were legal repercussions following the disaster. Belgian authorities charged 14 Liverpool fans with manslaughter, and they were convicted in 1989. Additionally, the Belgian police and the football authorities faced criticism for their handling of the event. The disaster led to a greater emphasis on legal accountability and the enforcement of stricter regulations to ensure public safety at sporting events.