Top 10 football stadium disasters
The ten worst soccer stadium tragedies in the history of association football
Football is perhaps the most glorious of sports. After all, it is loved the world over and continues to be regarded as the most popular sport of our time. However behind the glory and the competition lies a much darker history of human tragedy. The very stadiums in which footballing dreams are realised, have also hosted some of the worst stadium disasters in living memory.
10.) Ibrox disaster 1902
Location: Ibrox Park, Glasgow, Scotland
Date: April 5, 1902
Number of Deaths: 25
When Ibrox Park hosted England versus Scotland in the British Home Championship match in 1902, few were aware of the impending tragedy that was about to happen to the newly constructed Western Tribune Stand. Fifty one minutes into the match, the new stand collapsed due to heavy rainfall from the previous night. As such hundreds of fans fell over forty feet to the ground below causing the deaths of 25 individuals and 517 people were badly injured. At the time the stand consisted of wooden terracing supported by a steel girder frame.
9.) Burnden Park disaster
Location: Burnden Park, Bolton, Lancashire, England, UK
Date: March 9, 1946
Number of Deaths: 33
When Sir Stanley Matthews of Stoke came to watch an FA Cup tie between Stoke City and Bolton, a capacity crowd of some 85,000 showed up at Burnden Park. Unfortunately Burnden Park did not have the capacity to accommodate such numbers of people. Eventually two barriers collapsed under the strain of the sheer weight and volume of those in attendance, causing a human crush that would result in the deaths of 33 people and 400 people were also injured in the tragedy.
8.) Heysel Stadium disaster
Location: Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium
Date: May 29, 1985
Number of Deaths: 39
An hour before the 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus, a group of Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from an area containing Juventus fans. In an attempt to avoid the oncoming threat, many Juventus fans would fall back only to be stopped by a concrete wall. Those fans who were trapped by the wall were crushed to death by the sheer weight of people fleeing the Liverpool fans. Despite the 39 deaths and 600 people injured, the match would go on to be played. The Heysel Stadium disaster would see all English teams be subject to a UEFA ban that would only be lifted years later in 1990/1991. Fourteen Liverpool fans found guilty of manslaughter and each sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
7.) Bradford City stadium fire
Location: Valley Parade, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Date: May 11, 1985
Number of Deaths: 56
During a routine match between Bradford and Lincoln City, tragedy would strike when the stadium's main stand caught fire. As the stand was mainly a wooden construction, the fire took less than four minutes to engulf the stand entirely. Burning timbers and molten materials fell from the roof onto the crowd and seating below, and black smoke enveloped a passageway behind the stand, where many spectators were trying to escape. Worsened by the windy conditions the blaze trapped and killed 56 fans and injured 265 more. It is thought that the fire was started by a discarded cigarette or match.
6.) Luzhniki disaster
Location: Central Lenin Stadium, Moscow, Soviet Union
Date: October 20, 1982
Number of Deaths: 66
As the UEFA Cup match between Harleem and FC Spartak came to an end, many fans decided to leave the stadium early and beat the full time rush to the local metro. Witnesses report seeing a woman stumbling on a stairway causing many fans to stumble in an attempt to not fall on top of her. People began to stumble over the bodies of those who were crushed in a domino effect. This caused a tragic pile up resulting in the death of 66 people and 61 injured, most of whom were adolescents.
5.) 1971 Ibrox Park tragedy
Location: Ibrox Park, Glasgow, Scotland
Date: January 2, 1971
Number of Deaths: 66
In the closing stages of an old firm match between Celtic and Rangers, Celtic scored a 90th minute goal. This led many of the 80,000 fans in attendance to leave the stadium, but just before the final whistle was sounded Colin Stein for Rangers scored a miraculous equaliser. This led many fans to try and catch a glimpse of the pitch, with one such fan, perhaps a child, stumbling to the floor. This had a tragic chain reaction effect of causing many other fans to fall over and become trapped in a pile up of people. When the pile up had stopped, the crushed bodies measured 6 feet deep. The 1971 Ibrox disaster led to 66 deaths and more than 200 injuries.
4.) Port Said Stadium riot
Location: Port Said Stadium, Port Said, Egypt
Date: February 1, 2012
Number of Deaths: 74
Once the final whistle was sounded at a league match between the Egyptian sides of Al-Masry and Al-Ahly, hundreds of furious Al-Masry fans entered the pitch and proceeded to physically assault Al-Ahly players. Then the attackers turned their attention upon the Al-Ahly fans throwing stones, bottles and fireworks while other attackers were wielding knives. Chaos ensued in which countless fights broke out throughout the stadium resulting in an estimated 74 deaths and more than 500 people were injured. After the riot, 73 individuals including 9 police officers and 2 officials from Port Said’s Al-Masry club were charged.
3.) Hillsborough Stadium disaster
Location: Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England
Date: April 15, 1989
Number of Deaths: 96
As fans gathered at the Hillsborough Stadium to watch the FA Cup semi final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, few were aware that they were about to be involved in the worst disaster in English football history. Due to poor management and a policing error of judgement, far too many Liverpool fans were allowed access into the stadium within a short space of time. These excited fans ended up surging into the stadium which resulted in crushing the many Liverpool fans who were already in the stadium against an ill placed riot fence. Before long chaos would ensue resulting in 96 people being needlessly crushed to death also injuring 766 others.
2.) Accra Sports Stadium disaster
Location: Djan Stadium, Accra, Ghana
Date: May 9, 2001
Number of Deaths: 127
The Accra Sport Stadium disaster occurred at the Accra Sports Stadium (officially named the Ohene Djan Stadium), Accra, Ghana. Local police correctly anticipated in May 2001 that a match between Ghana's two most successful football teams, the Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club and Asante Kotoko, had the potential to incite violence between rival fans. This would become a reality when Accra Hearts came from behind to beat their opponents with two late goals. Kotoko fans were understandably outraged, but many took their outrage further by throwing plastic bottles and seats onto the pitch. Ghanaian police responded in kind with tear gas and plastic bullets which only served to make matters worse. Both sets of fans would then riot, causing stampedes that would ultimately cause the untimely death of 127 people by compressive asphyxia.
1.) Estadio Nacional tragedy
Location: Lima, Peru
Date: May 24, 1964
Number of Deaths: 328
When the referee cancelled a last minute goal in a closely contested match between Peru and Argentina in May 1964, an enraged fan entered the pitch. Unfortunately despite his best efforts, this berserk fan would fail to reach the referee and was instead beaten by police in full view. This had the negative effect of enraging the onlookers to such an extent that a riot broke out within the stadium. The police tried to restore order by firing tear gas into the stands, this caused panic and an attempt to avoid the gas. Fans would go on to riot violently, causing stampedes which crushed many people to death. Over 300 people lost their lives that day including 500 reported injuries and it is still widely recognised as the worst ever football stadium disaster on record.