Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Heysel: 25 Years On

Posted in European Football, UK Football by peterbein on May 29, 2010
Heysel Stadium

The Heysel stadium disaster is one of the worst ever in football history

Wednesday May 29th, 1985 is one of the saddest days in footballing history. Only moments before the European Cup final between Liverpool FC and Juventus FC there had been fighting both inside and outside the stadium and the situation was already so bad that the police in Heysel stadium, in the Belgian capital of Brussels, had already lost control. But even worse was to come when a retaining wall collapsed under the pressure of fans trying to escape from a charge by Liverpool supporters and thirty nine people, most of whom were Italian, died in tragic and unnecessary circumstances. Twenty five years on and the pain and angst of the tragedy is still very fresh in many people’s minds and it is fitting that in the cities of Brussels, Turin and Liverpool today, and in the past few days, there have been memorials to those who died on that fatal night.

As somebody who was a little under six years old at the time of the tragedy my personal memories of it are not the freshest as, at the time, I was too young to both understand and take in the pictures that I was watchng on the television that evening. One minute I remember both of the teams lining up on the pitch waiting to play as if nothing had happened. The next minute I remember Michel Platini scoring the penalty kick which gave Juventus FC a maiden European Cup win. But the football was always secondary to those events off the pitch which came to overshadow anything of mere sporting trivia. As a result English clubs were banned from participation in European club football competition for five years, with an additional one year for Liverpool FC, and the authorities all over the continent had to get a grip of the very real problem of hooliganism.

Since then there have been attempts from people at both clubs, whether it be players or supporters, to try and build bridges between them. Of course there will be people from Juventus who will never come to terms with what happened at Heysel and that is human nature. One can only hope that, whilst accepting that relationships between the fans of the two clubs will always be far from perfect, lessons from that fatal evening will be learnt and it seems that Liverpool Football Club are gradually beginning to come to terms with the part played by their supporters that night. With the club having also suffered further tragedy at Hillsbrough stadium in Sheffield four years after Heysel perhaps it was always easier to play the role of victim rather than accept the role of aggressor which the club had never publicly acknowledged too often until recent years. The UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match played at Anfield stadium on Tuesday, April 5th 2005 between Liverpool FC and Juventus FC did bring the subject back into people’s consciousness as it was the first time since Heysel that the two teams had played against each other in a major football match. The reaction of Juventus fans in the stadium was mixed, some applauding the efforts made by Liverpool Football club to display banners and symbols of reconciliation for what had happened twenty years earlier. However there was also a significant number of supporters who turned their back and gave a one fingered salute and made it clear that they would neither forgive nor forget.

Nonetheless the first signs of public goodwill by the clubs themselves was a helpful first step towards bringing about improved relations between two clubs whose shared history will always be synonymous with this terrible tragedy. Today has seen memorial servies held in Turin, with officials from both clubs and UEFA President Michel Platini present, and Brussels, the city of the tragedy. In Liverpool there was a presentation on Thursday at Anfield stadium of a permanent memorial to those who died at Heysel unveiled by former Liverpool captain Phil Neal and former Juventus player Sergio Brio and today the bells of the city’s town hall rang thirty nine times, once for every person who died, as a mark of respect. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” also wishes to pay its respects to the thirty nine who died at Heysel stadium and lists them all here:

  • Rocco Acerra
  • Bruno Balli
  • Alfons Bos
  • Giancarlo Bruschera
  • Andrea Casula
  • Giovanni Casula
  • Nino Cerullo
  • Willy Chielens
  • Giuseppina Conto
  • Dirk Daenecky
  • Dionisio Fabbro
  • Jacques François
  • Eugenio Gagliano
  • Francesco Galli
  • Giancarlo Gonnelli
  • Alberto Guarini
  • Giovacchino Landini
  • Roberto Lorentini
  • Barbara Lusci
  • Franco Martelli
  • Loris Messore
  • Gianni Mastroiaco
  • Sergio Bastino Mazzino
  • Luciano Rocco Papaluca
  • Luigi Pidone
  • Benito Pistolato
  • Patrick Radcliffe
  • Domenico Ragazzi
  • Antonio Ragnanese
  • Claude Robert
  • Mario Ronchi
  • Domenico Russo
  • Tarcisio Salvi
  • Gianfranco Sarto
  • Amedeo Giuseppe Spolaore
  • Mario Spanu
  • Tarcisio Venturin
  • Jean Michel Walla
  • Claudio Zavaroni
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