Heysel Stadium Disaster
"It is incongruous to attempt to draw a parallel between the two disasters, given that the cause of Heysel was hooliganism. However, if there was one common denominator, it concerned the inadequate crowd arrangements." - Alan Hansen
On the 29th May 1985 Liverpool F.C played Juventus F.C(Italy) in the European Cup Final held at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.
The events prior to the match ensured that the match would prove insignificant.
UEFA had decided that the stand behind one of the goals would be allocated to Liverpool supporters but that the end section of the stand be allocated for 'neutrals.'
Right. Dead bodies covered Time Magazine but were not used by the British media - this would change by the time of Hillsborough.
Liverpool F.C objected to UEFA about the allocation, as they would do prior to Hillsborough, but their fears were ignored. This gave the potential for the two sets of rival supporters to be in the same stand separated only by an inadequate, flimsy fence, which only consisted of chicken wire.
This decision proved to be the recipe for disaster.
It transpired that the 'neutral' section was filled by mostly Italians who had bought tickets from the neutral Belgium's
Due to the close proximity the Juventus supporters began to pelt the Liverpool supporters in the adjacent section with missiles. In provocation, and maybe remembering the violence they were subjected to at the previous Final in Rome, the Liverpool supporters charged towards the Juventus fans and into the neutral section.
Fighting broke out and in panic the spectators not involved in the trouble started to flee away from the trouble and towards the opposite end of the enclosure. Unfortunately their escape was blocked by a brick wall, built to contain, which ran along the entirety of the parameter of the enclosure.
In the resulting crush, as spectators tried to scale the wall and negotiate the drop that followed, the wall collapsed under the mounting pressure.
Thirty nine people lost their lives. As with Hillsborough the poor stadium design gave no chance for the large numbers to safely evacuate.
Consequently all English Clubs were banned from European competitions for 5 years, with Liverpool receiving a further 2 year ban.
Nothing can excuse the actions of the Liverpool 'supporters', no matter how provoked, but the decision to allocate the tickets did prove to be a major contributory factor.
As with Hillsborough, the Heysel Stadium was criticised for the decrepit and unsafe facilities and it was deemed that the Stadium was totally unsuitable to host such an occasion. The Belgium authorities were criticised for their total lack of organisation (many supporters entered the ground without having to show or surrender their tickets) and it was declared that the Heysel Stadium should not be used to stage football matches. The Heysel Stadium was then primarily used for athletic meetings until being largely rebuilt and renamed to host Euro 2000.
No major inquiry was ever made into the causes of the disaster and it seems now that the causes and the circumstances have been chosen to be forgotten, only blame remains...