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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
The Heysel disaster
Heysel disaster
Heysel: a tragedy waiting to happen?
The Heysel disaster of 29 May, 1985, led to the deaths of 39 fans and a five-year blanket ban on English clubs in European football.

More than 60,000 supporters of Liverpool and Juventus had made their way into the ageing Heysel stadium in northwest Brussels, many having spent the day drinking before the European Cup final.

At around 7pm local time, about an hour before the scheduled kickoff, the trouble started.

Juventus fans
Fans from both sides were involved in clashes

Fans had been chanting, waving flags and letting off fireworks, but the atmosphere became more violent and a thin line of police was unable to prevent a contingent of Liverpool followers from stampeding towards rival fans.

A retaining wall separating the Liverpool followers from Juventus supporters in sector 'Z' collapsed under the pressure and many were crushed or trampled when panicking Juventus fans tried to escape.

Thirty-nine Italian and Belgian fans died and hundreds were injured.

English banned

The game eventually went ahead late, despite objections from both managers, and Juventus won the match 1-0 from a second half penalty.

Some Liverpool fans claimed that Juventus supporters precipitated the violence by hurling stones and other missiles.

Heysel was almost certainly going to happen because no one, anywhere, seemed capable of stopping the violence

Liverpool fan Gerald McKinley

Others have blamed poor organisation and lack of crowd control by the Belgian authorities, saying that there were insufficient police inside the stadium to prevent fans from clashing.

UEFA acted swiftly to ban all English clubs indefinitely from participating in any of the three European competitions in the wake of the tragedy.

This restriction was gradually lifted five years later.

The Heysel stadium itself has changed beyond recognition since the disaster.

The old venue, built in 1930, was demolished after the disaster and replaced by the all-seater Stade Roi Baudouin, which has never been used to stage club football.

'Runaway train'

No plaque commemorates the 1985 horror, and the only reminder of that time is a reconditioned gateway near the main entrance, the last remnant of the original stadium.

Gerald McKinley, a Liverpool fan who was at Heysel but not involved in the rioting, said: "Heysel was almost certainly going to happen because no one, anywhere, seemed capable of stopping the violence.

"There was trouble at almost every game, at home and abroad and not just involving English teams. It was like trying to stop a runaway train.

"It had to stop somehow and since Heysel, there have been far fewer incidents. But what a tragic loss of life."

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28 May 00 | Sportstalk
Will hooligans ruin Euro 2000?
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