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24 September 2014

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You are in: Liverpool > History > Discover > The Times > Heysel disaster

Fans rioting

Liverpool fans attacked Juventus fans

Heysel disaster

39 supporters died when rioting Liverpool fans charged Juventus fans before the 1985 European Cup Final at the Heysel stadium.

The Heysel disaster on 29 May 1985 led to the deaths of 39 supporters and a blanket ban of English clubs from European competition for five years.

The 1985 European Cup Final was held at the Heysel stadium in Brussels. The ageing ground had been chosen as the venue for the final despite misgivings from both Liverpool and Juventus.

At around 7pm local time, an hour before kick off, trouble erupted between rival fans. A section of Liverpool fans stormed an area of Juventus fans, as the Juventus fans tried to escape a wall collapsed, many fans were crushed, thirty nine Italian and Belgian fans died and hundreds were injured.

Body on stretcher

39 fans died and hundreds were injured

The game went ahead to prevent further trouble, Juventus winning 1-0. In the aftermath UEFA banned English clubs from European football for an indefinite period.

The ban was eventually set at five years for English clubs and ten years for Liverpool. In the end Liverpool actually only served six years of the ban returning to European football one year after other English clubs in September 1991 with a UEFA Cup tie against Finnish team Kuuysi Lahti.

The Heysel stadium continued to stage athletics events but no more football matches after the disaster. In 1995 the stadium was demolished and replaced with the King Baudouin Stadium built on the same site.

Liverpool manager Joe Fagan

Liverpool manager Joe Fagan at Heysel

Some Liverpool fans claimed that they had been unfairly singled out for blame and that Juventus supporters precipitated the violence by hurtling missiles. The Belgian authorities were also criticised for a lack of crowd control and poor organisation.

During the blanket enforcement 16 English teams missed out on the opportunity to play in the three European competitions.

The match was Liverpool manager Joe Fagan's last in charge, he had announced his retirement before the game, Kenny Dalglish took over as player-manager the following season.

In 2005 Liverpool and Juventus were drawn together in the quarter finals of the Champions League, the first time the two teams had met since the disaster. Before the first leg at Anfield Liverpool fans held up placards to create a message saying "amicizia" - "friendship" in Italian. Many Juventus fans turned their backs.

last updated: 01/04/2008 at 16:27
created: 04/12/2006

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