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Heysel Stadium Events

The trouble started

Wednesday May 29, 1985 PMt 05 PM
Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium

At approximately 7 p.m. local time, an hour before kick-off, the trouble started. The Liverpool and Juventus supporters in sections X and Z stood merely yards apart. The boundary between the two was marked by temporary chain link fencing and a central thinly policed no-man's land. Hooligans began to throw stones across the divide, which they were able to pick up from the crumbling terraces beneath them. As kick-off approached, the throwing became more intense. Several groups of Liverpool hooligans broke through the boundary between section X and Z, overpowered the police, and charged at the Juventus fans. The fans began to flee toward the perimeter wall of section Z. The wall could not withstand the force of the fleeing Juventus supporters and a lower portion collapsed. Contrary to reports at the time, and what is still assumed by many, the collapse of the wall did not cause the 39 deaths. Instead, the collapse relieved pressure and allowed fans to escape. Most died of suffocation after tripping or being crushed against the wall before the collapse. A further 600 fans were also injured. Bodies were carried out from the stadium on sections of iron fencing and laid outside, covered with giant football flags. As police and medical helicopters flew in, the down-draught blew away the modest coverings. In retaliation for the events in section Z, many Juventus fans rioted at their end of the stadium. They advanced down the stadium running track to help other Juventus supporters, but police intervention stopped the advance. A large group of Juventus fans fought the police with rocks, bottles, and stones for two hours. One Juventus fan was also seen firing a starting gun at Belgian police.


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