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1985: Fans die in Heysel rioting

AUDIO : Radio commentary from Heysel

Thirty-nine Juventus football fans have died during rioting at the European Cup Final in Brussels.

The tragedy occured when a wall collapsed in the stadium and crushed Juventus fans as they tried to escape Liverpool supporters.

The two sets of supporters had spent the day drinking in the Belgian city and had arrived at the Heysel stadium waving flags and chanting.

But shortly before kick off the atmosphere turned violent and Liverpool supporters stampeded through a thin line of police towards the rival fans.

As the Juventus fans retreated a wall collapsed under the pressure and fans were crushed and trampled to death in the panic.

Police at the scene were unable to contain the violence and riot police were called in to calm the situation.

As the full extent of the tragedy unfolded the Red Cross moved in to treat the injured in tents set up at the scene. A priest was also called to give the Last Rites.

There were 58,000 fans in the ground and, as well as the dead, over 350 were injured.

Despite protests from both team managers the game went ahead with Juventus winning 1-0 thanks to a second half penalty.

Trouble had been reported since the two sets of fans arrived in the city. There were reports of stabbings and police numbers were dramaticaly increased to separate the fans.

In Context
Within days, and with the backing of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, English teams were banned from competing in Europe by the FA and then Uefa.

"We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again" Mrs Thatcher said.

All English teams were banned for five years apart from Liverpool who were banned for six.

Fourteen Liverpool fans were given three-year sentences - half the terms were suspended - after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter at a five-month trial in Belgium in 1989.

Violence in football grounds has been largely eliminated thanks to closed circuit TV, seating in stadiums, segregation of rival fans and the banning of alcohol.


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