Football

The Heysel stadium disaster

Published 1128 GMT (1928 HKT) October 31, 2012
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In the space of four years in the 1980s, a total of 191 people died in three stadium disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough. AFP/Getty Images
Thirty-nine fans -- 32 from Italy, four from Belgium, two from France, one from Northern Ireland, the youngest just 11 years old -- were killed in a stampede before the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in May 1985. Getty Images
In the decade before Heysel there had been a history of trouble surrounding English supporters at European matches on the continent, notably Tottenham Hotspur in Rotterdam in 1974 and 1983, Leeds United in Paris in 1975 and Manchester United in Saint-Etienne in 1977. Violence had also ominously flared between English and Italian supporters when Liverpool played Roma in the 1984 European Cup final in Italy's capital. Liverpool won the game on penalties. Getty Images
Sixty-five years after its construction in 1920, Heysel was crumbling. The outer wall was made of cinder block, and fans who didn't have tickets were seen kicking holes in it to get in. Heysel's Sector Z terrace had grass poking through the crumbling concrete while flimsy wire-netting separated the Liverpool and Juve fans. Getty Images
Michel Platini, who is now UEFA president, scored Juve's winning goal in a 1-0 victory, though he was criticized at the time for celebrating. "On that far away spring day I was a player who had not yet turned 30, happy go lucky, like many supporters who on that day made it to Brussels for the love of Juve and who unfortunately never returned, having been ripped away from their loved ones that cursed night," the Frenchman said in 2010. Getty Images
"For me that cup will always be covered in death," wrote Juve defender Antonio Cabrini in his autobiography. "The cup of death." Getty Images
Heysel is a story of "incompetence, violence, cover-up, shame and lies," writes British historian John Foot -- the author of the authoritative history of Italian football "Calcio." AFP/Getty Images
"I'm happy that sometimes there is someone who remembers the tragedy," Rosalina Vannini Gonnelli told CNN. "Many years have passed. People had forgotten soon after it happened, so now there's no way. The 39 angels will always be in the memories of their loved ones." Getty Images
"Whenever I think of Heysel, the first image that springs to mind is the expression on Joe Fagan's face as the terrifying scenes of crowd violence escalated to the point where the game that had been his whole life no longer meant anything. At the end, he looked a broken man," wrote former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen of the club's manager in his autobiography "A Matter of Opinion." Getty Images
Liverpool met Juventus in a competitive match for the first time since that fateful day in 2005's Champions League quarterfinal tie. Liverpool won 2-1 on aggregate and went on to to win the European Cup after beating AC MIlan on penalties in Istanbul.
Striker Ian Rush, right, spent one season at Juve in 1987-88 between two spells at Liverpool. Before the first leg of the 2005 quarterfinal at Anfield, Liverpool supporters held up a mosaic to form the word "Amicizia" (friendship). Some of the visiting Juve fans applauded, but many turned their backs in disgust. There is also a Heysel memorial plaque at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium. Getty Images
Juventus officials insist the Serie A club has never forgotten the victims of the Heysel disaster. "The families of the victims are always welcome at the club, the museum and the stadium -- for free," said a Juve spokeswoman. Getty Images
Former Juve defender Fabio Cannavaro attended a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Heysel stadium disaster prior to a friendly international between Italy and Mexico in Brussels on June 3, 2010 -- the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. AFP/Getty Images
A decade after the Heysel disaster the ground was rebuilt and renamed the King Baudouin Stadium.The new ground had a plaque dedicated to the disaster, though it had no names of the victims, before, in 2005, a monument that did include the 39 victims' names was unveiled. AFP/Getty Images
Former Juve striker Alessandro del Piero this year told Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport that Liverpool made an approach to him while he was in discussions with Sydney FC but he "thought about what happened at Heysel" before opting for a move to Australia. "Liverpool have worked hard to mend their relationship, but for a lot of people it's something that can never be forgotten," added Del Piero. Getty Images