So whilst I am not an avid sports fan it seems fair that I cover these, as they no doubt come under interesting even frightening if you were there for them. So lets go with the round-up. ( I am avoiding Hillsborough if you are wondering, this is simply too big to cover and would no doubt require me to go into a major history account.) I haven’t chosen to link videos, if you want to go and find out more do so but I will say they are very harrowing, you are watching people in the process of dying on some of them. Whilst I am pretty much of the stance that I will take a neutral view, even I admit these are damned sad to watch.
23rd June 1968 – Puerta 12 tragedy, Buenos Aires. This is less well-known it seems but 71 fans died at the stadium, it was two sides that seemed to blame one another for the terrible events. Calls about people burning flags seemed to have caused a stamped and the fans rushed towards gate 12; it caused the deaths and around 150 injuries. Victims were between 13 and 20 years of age and in the end the league paid compensation to the victims families. Even today the area remains to have changed little with the low light around the area, the stairwell and the gate are virtually unchanged.
2nd January 1971, Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. A stampede led to the death of 66 people and over 200 people being injured. Until the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster it was the worst to have occurred in the United Kingdom. The stadium’s owners were later found to be at fault over one of the deaths, they did not dispute it and 60 other cases were brought forwards. In 1902 there had been a previous incident there, a stand collapsed due to heavy rain the night before and killed 25, and injured 517.
In 1971 more than 80,000 fans attended and Celtic took a 1-0 lead against the Rangers. Some Rangers supporters began to leave but at the final moments an equaliser was scored. Thousands were leaving and as this was happening, by stairway 13, a child was on his father’s shoulders and fell, it caused a terrible chain-reaction. Most of the deaths were caused by compressive asphyxia (chest compressed until the longs cannot take in enough air and the person suffocates). Bodies had stacked up to six feet in some of the areas and these days there is a memorial to the event and those who lost their lives.
20th October 1982, Luzhniki in Moscow, Soviet Russia (it was the named Grand Sports Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium) a stampede started that killed 66 RC Spartak Moscow fans and the number of those that died was not made official until 1989, until then speculation ranged from 3 to 240 deaths. The fans had two of the four stands open, they could get the area cleared of snow that way and most of the fans went to the East Stand as it was closer to the Metro station. Thee were about 100 Dutch supporters. The game itself was pretty much uneventful and the fans began to head out minutes before the end, presumably they had already seen enough of the match. The fans effectively rushed to the Metro Station side exit.
A fan fell at the lower steps of stairway one and, according to some reports, it was a woman that had lost her shoe and stopped to find it, some stopped to help. The crowd was getting dense by this stage and a domino effect started.
People around had no idea what was happening as impatient fans tried to move to the exit, the stampede was in full swing as the second goal for Spartak came 20 seconds before the final whistle. The autopsy showed that those who died all died from compressive asphyxia. A Russian site explained that perhaps the goal at the end helped to save more lives as people rushed back to see that and eased the crush, who knows…
1st February 2012, Port Said Stadium, Port Said City, Egypt... a riot occurred at the stadium with 72 killed and over 500 injured when thousands of El Masty spectators stormed the stadium stands and pitch, following a 3-1 by their team. They attacked El Ahly fans who were in their own area using weaponry and fireworks. Their anti-government/revolutionary chants had many thousands of Egyptian fans thinking that it was a set up to get rid of the revolutionary group. The Egyptian government responded by shutting down the domestic league for two years.
The match had been delayed for 30 minutes as El Masry fans were already on the pitch, and each time there was a goal they invaded, along with the half time invasion. The El Ahly were trying to escape and being attacked as they ran, they were asking for police to protect them as they ran and in the melee there were people thrown from the stands as well. The Egyptian family airlifted in soldiers to rescue the players who had been stranded and the Al Ahly coach a the time, Manuel José, even considered giving up coaching, as well as leaving Egypt for good. The security forces were condemned that they had hesitated to act and part of the support for the idea it was government organised came from the lack of security searches, that eyewitnesses saw security standing aside during the attack and overall it seems that this was part of the evidence that was being waded through.
On 26th January 2013 they held the trial, 21 accused were effectively handed their death sentences with 52 postponed until March 2013. 27th January 2013 it was reported that the Egyptian government had lost control of the city. Sadly the deaths continued there.
Other mentions are the Estadio Nacional disaster, Lima in 1964 where a Peru and Argentina match took place and with Argentina leading 1-0 and six minutes of normal time left, the fans of Peru were angered by a goal being disallowed that would have meant they were equalised. The result was a pitch invasion and tear gas being deployed, steel shutters were closed and panic ensued crushing people. All those who died were in the stairwell and there were at least 328 deaths, though this may be an understatement.
The Accra Sports Stadium Disaster in 2001 also deserves a mention, taking the lives of 127 people in Africa. Trouble had been anticipated and there was extra security but the match carried on and bottles and plastic seats were thrown on to the pitch. The police fired tear gas into the crowd and panic ensued with a crush off 127 people that lost their lives. Ghanaian fans remember the disaster on the 9th May each year.
After speaking with my more football savvy friend, he also mentioned that as disasters go another really should be mentioned. The Bradford Stadium fire. On Saturday 11th May, 1985 fire broke out. It was a tragic event taking the lives of 56 supporters and injuring 265. Police, supporters and staff were forced from the stadium dragging out people they could, trying to save as many as possible as the stand was engulfed in fire. This event is one that sparked a wave of new legislations for safety, the antiquated stadium had been unfit for purpose. Bradford City still support the Burns Unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary as their chosen charity to this date.
And my final one is the Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores, 16th October 1996, just before the 1998 FIFA World Cup Qualification match was about to take place, saw 83 people killed and more than 140 injured as excessive numbers of fans then tried to break into the General Sur section. It created a human avalanche and it seems that the excess was most likely down to counterfeit tickets and the poor design of the building. It was a terrible situation with many people having suffocated in the mass.
The sad part is that many of these tragedies are due to bad planning or poor layouts, not to mention people. It’s also unfortunate that the majority of the people in all the cases above would likely have been nothing more than people wanting to enjoy a day out supporting their sport. Violence, stampedes or general disasters meant that innocent people died in a terrible way and I think we owe it to them to remember these things and try to learn from them each time.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2184782