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Football Disasters: The Sport's Worst Stadium Tragedies

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Shocked spectators walk through the personal belongings of victims littering the stands, after the disaster at Heysel Stadium in Brussels
Shocked spectators walk through the personal belongings of victims littering the stands, after the disaster at Heysel Stadium in Brussels

On Wednesday, 74 people were killed and more than 250 were injured when spectators at a football match in Port Said, Egypt, broke onto the pitch, attacking players and rival fans.

Unfortunately, the tragedy in the Mediterranean port is not the first to befall the sport. The game’s history is littered with stadium disasters, from South America to Europe to Africa. Here are some of the worst catastrophes to scar the beautiful game.

The National Stadium, Lima, Peru
In 1964, 318 people were killed following a match between Peru and Argentina. The referee disallowed a Peruvian goal at the end of the game, which led to protests from the home fans and eventually a full riot. Along with the huge death toll, more than 500 spectators were injured.

Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana
In 2001, 126 people died after police fired tear gas at rioting fans at a game between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. The subsequent rush to get out of the stadium left scores dead and hundreds injured. After the disaster, the Ghanaian police were heavily criticized for over reacting to the violence.

Hillsborough, Sheffield, England
In 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died during an FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest. To ease crushing outside the ground, the police opened the gates to the stadium causing a sudden surge that crushed fans against the metal fences separating the pitch from the terraces. Following the disaster, all football grounds in the English top flight were forced to convert to all-seater stadium.

National Stadium, Katmandu, Nepal
In 1998, 93 fans died when a hailstorm hit the stadium during a game between teams from Bangladesh and Nepal. The hail came down with such force that the 30,000 inside the stadium fled for cover. The subsequent stampede resulted in fans and police officers being crushed to death.

Mateo Flores National Stadium, Guatemala City, Guatemala
In 1996, more than 80 supporters were trampled to death after a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match between Guatemala and Costa Rica. The tragedy was blamed on forgers selling fake tickets, resulting in an over-capacity at the stadium.

Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Seventy-one people were killed and 150 injured when a game between River Plate and Boca Juniors ended in tragedy. The cause of the 1968 disaster was never officially determined, but many believe a crush occurred when fans in the upper tier began burning flags of the opposition team, which caused a stampede.

Valley Parade Stadium, Bradford, England
Known as the Bradford City fire, the 1985 blaze killed 56 people. The cause is believed to have been a spectator discarding a cigarette, which caught fire to rubbish and debris under the stand. Very quickly the entire main stand was engulfed in flames, leaving many dead, despite police evacuating fans to the pitch.

Lenin Stadium, Moscow, Russia
In 1982, more than 66 fans perished at a Uefa Cup match between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem when spectators leaving the stadium rushed back in following a late goal. The surge caused a crush, with fans asphyxiated to death. The Soviet government refused to reveal the eventual death toll.

Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland
In 1971, 66 fans died during an Old Firm game between Rangers and Celtic. With the away team leading 1-0, Rangers fans began streaming out of the ground. The barriers of one of the stairways that led to the exit gave way, causing a crushing pile up that left many dead and hundreds injured.

Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium
In 1984, 39 fans were killed when a game between Liverpool and Juventus turned violent. Liverpool fans broke down a fence before kick off, attacking the Italian fans who retreated to a wall. The pressure led the wall's eventual collapse. The disaster resulted in the banning of English teams from European competition. The ban was not lifted until 1991.

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