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20 Biggest Soccer Tragedies and the Internet Response
The history of soccer is dotted with some of the worst tragedies ever recorded in sports. Whether by natural means, or by the hands of men, there have been numerous disastrous events throughout soccer’s past. The following are the 20 biggest soccer tragedies, as well as some internet responses to the more recent events:
- Luzhniki Disaster – Lenin Stadium, Moscow, Russia October 20, 1982 – At a match where relatively few tickets had been sold, officials decided to operate only one exit. Some fans had left the game early when a goal was scored by the FC Spartak Moscow side. This caused many of those who were leaving to turn around and attempt to re-enter the stadium. They collided with others who were leaving, resulting in a stampede that took more than 340 lives.
- National Stadium Riots – Lima, Peru May 24, 1964 – At a match between Argentina and Peru, a goal during the final two minutes is disallowed by a referee, inciting an eruption from the crowd. When the rioting was over, the death toll had reached a total of 318, and over 500 injured.
- Accra Sports Stadium Disaster – Ghana may 9, 2001 – Near the end of a match between rival sides Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, fans begin tearing seats out of the stands. Police respond by firing tear gas into the crowd, who then create a stampede in their attempts to exit the stadium. As was standard practice during matches, all the gates had been locked. There were 127 deaths from suffocation, or from the crush of the 70,000-spectator stampede. A Facebook site, with associated links, is dedicated to the tragedy.
- Hillsborough Stadium Disaster -Sheffield, England April 15, 1989 – In a tragedy that was also linked to the practice of locking exits during football matches, 96 fans lost their lives on this infamous date. Security had opened gates for the purpose of ejecting a fan, when a number of fans who had gathered outside rushed in. when security opened yet another gate, the 5,000 fans who had formed a crowd outside swept in. Numerous YouTube videos commemorate the tragedy; and a website was created by families of some of the victims, seeking justice for their loved ones.
- Kathmandu Disaster – National Stadium Kathmandu, Nepal March 12, 1988 – This time it was nature that spurred the tragedy. A hailstorm pelted fans at a match between Nepal and Bangladesh. 93 people were trampled to death or suffocated when the crowd of 30,000 spectators rushed for cover. Once again, exits had all been locked up. A commemorative Facebook profile page has been established here.
- Guatemala Disaster – Mateo Flores National Stadium, Guatemala City, Guatemala October 16, 1996 – Gate-crashers, and reportedly fans who had unwittingly purchased forged tickets to the match, created a human stampede an hour before the scheduled start of the match. A death toll of more than 80 people was reported, most from suffocation.
- Port Said Tragedy – Port Said, Egypt Feb. 1, 2012 — Egyptian state TV reports 73 killed after fans of rival teams Al-Ahly and Al-Masry rush the field following Al-Masry’s 3-1 upset victory. Fans were also reported to have hurled sticks and rocks. The Egypt soccer riots lit up twitter with tweets condemning the violence and mourning the victims.
- Puerta 12 Tragedy – Buenos Aires, Argentina June 23, 1968 – 71 deaths and over 150 injuries resulted when fans were crushed at the front of a crowd that was attempting to exit through gates that had been closed shut. Varying reports blame police, flag-burning fans in the stands, or that the turnstiles were blocked at the exits. The tragedy is known by the gate (Puerta 12) which was at the center of this disaster.
- Ibrox Disaster #2 – Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland January 2,1971- A structural collapse at Stairway 13 resulted in a crush of bodies as fans were trying to exit the stadium. Compressive asphyxia was blamed for the 66 deaths during the stampede.
- Bradford City Disaster – Valley Parade Stadium, Bradford, England May 11, 1985 – In this instance, the disaster was caused by fire. Apparently a fan had tossed a lit cigarette down onto a rubbish heap which set the wooden stands ablaze, resulting in an inferno that claimed 56 lives. A Facebook website which memorializes the tragedy can be found here.
- Kayseri Ataturk Stadium Tragedy – Kayseri Ataturk Stadium, Kayseri, Turkey September 17, 1968 – Rioting between rival fans, which began with rock throwing then escalated to fighting that included guns and knives, claimed 44 lives and 600 injured.
- Ellis Park Stadium Disaster – Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa April 11, 2001- For a match between the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, fans grew in numbers far beyond the stadium’s capacity of 60,000. Some estimates double that number in actual attendance, which caused yet another stampede. 43 people were crushed to death. Onthisfootballday.com commemorates this disaster, as does This Day in Football History.
- Orkney Disaster – Oppenheimer Stadium, Orkney, South Africa January 13, 1991 – As was the case 10 years later when these sides squared off, a match between the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, turned into a melee. When a Pirates fan ran amok in the stands with a knife, a stampede ensued, resulting in 42 deaths.
- The Heysel Disaster – Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium May 29, 1985 – Still smarting from an assault by Roma fans at a match one year earlier, Liverpool fans sought to take it out on Juventus fans at this match. Breaking through a barrier and trapping Juventus fans, the Liverpool hooligans instigated the subsequent collapse of a retaining wall, resulting in 39 deaths. Visit the commemorative Facebook page here.
- Burnden Park Disaster – Burnden Park, Bolton, Manchester, England March 9, 1946 – 85,000 fans crammed the stadium for a match between the Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City. Apparently caused by upwards of 20,000 additional fans attempting to gain entrance, a wall collapsed, stirring (you guessed it) a human stampede. 33 people were killed.
- Ibrox Disaster #1 – Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland April 5, 1902 – At a match between England and Scotland, a section of stadium that had recently been built gave way due to overnight rainfall having weakened it. Fans by the hundreds fell as much as 40 feet, 25 to their deaths, and another 500+ sustaining injuries.
- Tripoli Disaster – Tripoli, Libya March 10, 1987 – A wall collapses during a soccer match when hooligans brandishing knives threaten spectators. The ensuing stampede results in the deaths of 20 people.
- Harare Tragedy – Harare, Zimbabwe July 9, 2000 – Thirteen people died from a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Police shared some of the blame for having fired tear gas into the crowd to subdue the rioters, and instead causing them to stampede in retreat. News was spread across the internet via mainstream media sites such as AP, and the New York Times.
- Zambia Tragedy – Lusaka, Zambia June 16, 1996 – Zambia vs. Sudan, in a World Cup qualifier. Fans stampede following the match, with nine being crushed to death and another 78 sustaining injuries.
- Santiago Tragedy – Santiago, Chile March 30, 1955 – 70,000 fans attempt to enter the stadium for the South American soccer tournament finals. The crush of humanity results in 6 deaths and scores of injuries.
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