The Heysel Drama (2/2)

Julien Antinoff
Editor Made in Brussels
4th November 2013

One of the worst tragedies linked to a sporting event was held at Heysel Stadium in May 1985. While Juventus (Italy) and Liverpool (England) competed in the final of the Champions League, English football hooligans invaded a platform, causing the death of 39 people.

On 29th May, 1985, one of the worst disasters of football took place because of hooliganism, resulting in a sad day that has remained in the memory of all football fans. At the end of May, the Heysel Stadium hosted the final of the Champions League with Juventus against Liverpool, the two teams that dominated the European continent. On Wednesday evening, more than 60,000 people were expected in the stands, but security was not tight enough and more fans without tickets managed to enter the stadium. An hour before kick-off, the stands were packed and contained far more people than they should have. 

The tensions between supporters of the two clubs was seperated by a 'no-man's land' of about fifteen meters. Liverpool fans charged toward the Block Z, which was to be occupied by Belgian supporters but instead occupied by Italian fans. The police were overwhelmed and a hundred English fans invaded the platform. Under the pressure, the stands folded and a stampede insued. Doors giving access to the pitch were closed and police forcefully pushed supporters who tried to flee the field . The seperation gates collapsed, dozens of people were trampled. 39 people were left dead, including 32 Italians, four Belgians, two French and one Irish. 

A reaction from Italian fans followed, and soon more violence followed. Police arrived to contain and avoid confrontation. The two team captains then entered the field and called for calm. A few minutes later, the two teams started the game and Juventus won by 1-0, a single goal by Michel Platini. To justify keeping the match going despite the tragedy, UEFA said they hoped they could rekindle the violence. Since then, the former captain of France has refused to return to the field. 

Text Julien Antinoff

Translation Karen Athwal

Photo DR

Julien Antinoff
Editor Made in Brussels
4th November 2013

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