The HEYSEL STADIUM DISASTER (French: , Dutch: ( listen ); Dutch :
Heizeldrama; French : Drame du Heysel) occurred on 29 May 1985 when
escaping fans were pressed against a collapsing wall in the Heysel
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
* 1 Events leading up to the disaster
* 1.1 Confrontation * 1.2 The match
* 2 Aftermath
* 2.1 Criminal proceedings * 2.2 English club ban * 2.3 Impact on stadiums
* 3 Commemorations * 4 Deaths * 5 See also
* 6 References
* 6.1 Works cited
* 7 Further reading * 8 External links
EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE DISASTER
In May 1985, Liverpool were the defending European Champions\' Cup
winners, having won the competition after defeating Roma in the
penalty shootout in the final of the previous season. Again they would
face Italian opposition, Juventus, who had won, unbeaten, the
1983–84 Cup Winners\' Cup . Juventus had a team comprising many of
Despite its status as Belgium's national stadium , Heysel was in a
poor state of repair by the time of the 1985 European Final. The
55-year-old stadium had not been sufficiently maintained for several
years, and large parts of the stadium were literally crumbling. For
example, the outer wall had been made of cinder block , and fans who
did not have tickets were seen kicking holes in it to get in.
Liverpool players and fans later said that they were shocked at
Heysel's abject condition, despite reports from Arsenal fans that the
ground was a "dump" when Arsenal had played there a few years earlier.
They were also surprised that Heysel was chosen despite its poor
condition, especially since
The stadium was crammed with 58,000–60,000 supporters, with more than 25,000 for each team. The two ends behind the goals comprised all-standing terraces, each end split into three zones. The Juventus end was O, N and M and the Liverpool end was X, Y and Z as deemed by the Belgian court after the disaster. However, the tickets for the Z section were reserved for neutral Belgian fans in addition to the rest of the stadium. This meant the Juventus fans had more sections than the Liverpool fans with the Z section occupied by neutrals which is thought to have heightened prematch tensions. The idea of the large neutral area was opposed by both Liverpool and Juventus, as it would provide an opportunity for fans of both clubs to obtain tickets from agencies or from ticket touts outside the ground and thus create a dangerous mix of fans.
At the time Brussels, like the rest of Belgium, already had a large Italian community, and many expatriate Juventus fans bought the section Z tickets. Added to this, many tickets were bought up and sold by travel agents, mainly to Juventus fans. A small percentage of the tickets ended up in the hands of Liverpool fans.
Heysel Stadium by section
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-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.
Despite the scale of the disaster,
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
Initially, the blame for the incident was laid on the fans of
Liverpool FC. On 30 May official
The British police undertook a thorough investigation to bring to justice the perpetrators. Some 17 minutes of film and many still photographs were examined. TV Eye produced an hour-long programme featuring the footage and the British press also published the photographs.
A total of 34 people were arrested and questioned with 26 Liverpool
fans being charged with manslaughter – the only extraditable offence
applicable to events at Heysel. An extradition hearing in London in
February–March 1987 ruled all 26 were to be extradited to stand
The trial eventually got underway in October 1988, with three Belgians also standing trial for their role in the disaster: Albert Roosens, the head of the Belgian Football Association, for allowing tickets for the Liverpool section of the stadium to be sold to Juventus fans; and two police chiefs - Michel Kensier and Johann Mahieu - who were in charge of policing at the stadium that night. Two of the 26 Liverpool fans were in custody in Britain at the time and stood trial later. In April 1989, 14 fans were convicted and given three-year sentences, that were half suspended for five years, allowing them to return to the UK. After Belgian prosecutors appealed the sentences as too lenient, an appeal took place in Spring 1990 that increased the sentences of 11 fans (to five or four years), with two having their sentences upheld and one being acquitted.
ENGLISH CLUB BAN
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Pressure mounted to ban English clubs from European competition. On
31 May 1985, British Prime Minister
Though the English national team was not subjected to any bans,
English club sides were banned indefinitely from European club
competitions, with Liverpool being provisionally subject to a further
three years suspension as well. In April 1990, following years of
campaigning from the English football authorities,
According to former Liverpool striker
The following clubs were denied entry to European competitions during this period:
EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS\' CUP
1985–86 Everton Manchester United (4th) Liverpool (2nd) Tottenham Hotspur (3rd) Southampton (5th) Norwich City (League Cup Winners (20th))
1986–87 Liverpool Everton
(2nd) West Ham United (3rd) Manchester United (4th) Sheffield Wednesday (5th) Oxford United (League Cup Winners (18th))
1987–88 Everton Coventry City (10th) Liverpool (2nd) Tottenham Hotspur (3rd) Arsenal (4th) (League Cup Winners) Norwich City (5th)
1988–89 Liverpool Wimbledon (6th) Manchester United (2nd) Nottingham Forest (3rd) Everton (4th) Luton Town (League Cup Winners (9th))
1989–90 Arsenal Liverpool (2nd) Nottingham Forest (3rd) (League Cup Winners) Norwich City (4th) Derby County (5th) Tottenham Hotspur (6th)
Nottingham Forest (League Cup Winners (9th))
The number of places available to English clubs in the
In the meantime, many other clubs missed out on a place in the UEFA Cup due to the return of English clubs to European competitions only being gradual.
Liverpool's additional year of exclusion from Europe meant that there
was no English representation in the 1990-91
The teams who missed out on the 1991–92
The excluded teams in 1992–93 were Arsenal and Manchester City .
In 1993–94, the excluded teams were Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers .
The final season of partial exclusion was 1994–95, when Leeds United missed out.
IMPACT ON STADIUMS
After Heysel, English clubs began to impose stricter rules intended to make it easier to prevent troublemakers from attending domestic games, with legal provision to exclude troublemakers for three months introduced in 1986, and the Football (Offences) Act introduced in 1991.
Serious progress on legal banning orders preventing foreign travel to
matches was arguably not made until the violence involving England
fans (allegedly mainly involving neo-Nazi groups, such as
Combat 18 )
at a match against Ireland on 18 February 1995 and violent scenes at
The main reforms to English stadiums came after the Taylor Report
Heysel Stadium itself continued to be used for hosting athletics
for almost a decade, but no further football matches took place in the
old stadium. In 1994, the stadium was almost completely rebuilt as the
King Baudouin Stadium
In 1985, a memorial was presented to the victims at the Juventus
headquarters in Piazza Crimea,
A memorial service for those killed in the disaster was held before
Liverpool's match with Arsenal at
In 1991, a memorial monument for the 39 victims of the disaster, the
only one on Italian soil, was inaugurated in
During Euro 2000 , members of the Italian team left flowers on the site, in honour of the victims.
On 29 May 2005, a £140,000 sculpture was unveiled at the new Heysel stadium, to commemorate the disaster. The monument is a sundial designed by French artist Patrick Rimoux and includes Italian and Belgian stone and the poem " Funeral Blues " by Englishman W. H. Auden to symbolise the sorrow of the three countries. Thirty-nine lights shine, one for each who died that night.
Juventus and Liverpool were drawn together in the quarter-finals of
the 2005 Champions League , their first meeting since Heysel. Before
the first leg at
On Wednesday 26 May 2010, a permanent plaque was unveiled on the
Centenary Stand at
In May 2012, a Heysel
In February 2014, an exhibition in
In May 2015, during a Serie A match between Juventus and Napoli at Turin, Juventus fans held up placards to form a banner saying "+39 Rispetto" ("respect +39" in Italian) including the names of the victims of the disaster.
On 12 November 2015 Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Juventus'
representatives led by Mariella Scirea and J-Museum president Paolo
Garimberti and members of the Italian victims association held a
ceremony in front of the Heysel monument in
King Baudouin Stadium
The 39 people killed were 32 Italians (including two minors), four
Belgians, two French fans and one from
Rocco Acerra 29
Bruno Balli 50
Alfons Bos 35
Giancarlo Bruschera 21
Andrea Casula 11
Giovanni Casula 44
Nino Cerullo 24
Willy Chielens 41
Giuseppina Conti 17
Dirk Daeninckx 38
Dionisio Fabbro 51
Jacques François 45
Eugenio Gagliano 35
Francesco Galli 24
Giancarlo Gonnelli 20
Alberto Guarini 21
Giovacchino Landini 50
Roberto Lorentini 31
Barbara Lusci 58
Franco Martelli 22
Loris Messore 28
Gianni Mastroiaco 20
Sergio Bastino Mazzino 38
Luciano Rocco Papaluca 38
Luigi Pidone 31
Benito Pistolato 50
Patrick Radcliffe 38
Domenico Ragazzi 44
Antonio Ragnanese 49
Claude Robert 27
Mario Ronchi 43
Domenico Russo 28
Tarcisio Salvi 49
Gianfranco Sarto 47
Amedeo Giuseppe Spolaore 55
Mario Spanu 41
Tarcisio Venturin 23
Jean Michel Walla 32
Claudio Zavaroni 28
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