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1985: English teams banned after Heysel

The Football Association has banned English clubs from playing in Europe following the Heysel stadium tragedy two days ago in which 39 fans died.

The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, supported the ban which was announced by FA officials outside Number 10 Downing Street and called for tougher sentences on convicted football hooligans.

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

Last Wednesday evening, 39 people died and more than 400 were injured when a wall collapsed at the stadium in Brussels during violent riots just before the European cup final between Liverpool and Juventus (Turin).


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

Margaret Thatcher

The match went ahead despite the tragedy and Juventus won 1-0.

The ban, decided after the return from Mexico of FA chairman Bert Millichip and secretary Ted Croker, will affect Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton. They are all due to compete in major contests next season.

"It is now up to English football to put its house in order," said Mr Croker outside Number 10.

Mr Millichip acknowledged the ban was a pre-emptive move and that Uefa (the Union of European Football Associations) would have imposed it anyway.

"It was very important that the FA took positive action and immediately," he said, saying it was the most difficult decision he had ever had to take.

The Labour leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock, said the ban of English teams would only benefit those who caused the "murderous riot" in Belgium.

The Football League which was not consulted is also opposed to the decision.

The Belgian government has already banned all British clubs from its territory until further notice.

Liverpool, whose fans were blamed for much of the violence, had decided to pull out of next season's Uefa cup competition before the FA announcement.

In Context
The horrific scenes at the Heysel stadium unfurled shortly before the European Cup final when Liverpool fans charged towards Juventus supporters, causing a dividing wall to collapse and crushing fans to death. The final death toll was 39 - most of the victims were Italians.

The ban was lifted in 1990.

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.

More recently any violence has taken place outside the ground as happened during World Cup matches in France in 1998 when England fans went on the rampage in Marseille destroying shops.

England fans behaved well during at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan as well as Euro 2004 in Portugal.


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