Football is a game filled with passion and burning emotions. Obviously, there are times when this passion can’t be kept inside a bottle, resulting in violence and destruction. The phrase ‘ It’s just a game! ‘, clearly means nothing to these fans. Common sense and rationality are nowhere to be seen!
Football hooliganism can simply be stated as unruly behavior by fans which, more often than not, leads to catastrophic consequences . This form of hooliganism, usually occurs in the form of conflict between supporters during games, such as local derbies. These hooligans, have the sole purpose of physically intimidating and attacking others. Many supporters have been killed and injured, marring the beautiful game as we know it ! Here’s a look back at some of the worst riots in footballing history.
10. Kenilworth Road : One too many away supporters!
This riot took place in an FA Cup 6th round tie between Luton and Millwall on 13th March 1985. Inspite of being warned, there were way too many fans present in the stadium and this overcrowding led to fights which eventually broke out on the pitch. Supporters from the away end, charged onto the pitch at the end of the game, and hurled objects such as chairs at the police officers. The supporters went out of control and this resulted in 47 people getting injured, 33 of them being policemen. It led to a ban on away supporters by Luton Town for four years and the expulsion of Luton Town from the Football League Cup.
9. A title clincher to forget
This incident has cast a shadow over Turkish football. Hundreds of Fenerbahce fans, stormed onto the pitch and clashed with the police after a goal less draw against rivals Galatasaray, resulting in Galatasaray lifting the title.
Officers used pepper sprays to maintain control as players fled to the dressing rooms. Fans broke plastic chairs and hurled them at the police as well as the Galatasaray players.
This violence was transferred to the streets as well. Police cars were turned and set on fire. Fortunately, there were no casualties.Talk about sore losers!
8. Stadio Olimpico mayhem
This riot occurred during a champions league fixture between AS Roma and Manchester United on 4th April 2007. This incident was interpreted by many differently, which lead to people questioning what sparked off this event.
Before the game, the police were only present in the United supporters’ end. This error proved to be costly as the uncontrolled Roma fans began to hurl missiles at the United supporters. Even United fans reportedly pushed the stewards around, and that seemed to have worsened things. Violence continued on the streets even after the game.
United accused the police of handing out indiscriminate beating to the United supporters. 11 United and 4 Roma supporters were injured. A similar incident took place in Manchester, during the second leg, only this time with beer cans.
7. The Wroclaw football riot : A planned disaster !
Riots are known to generally happen out of the blue . It is therefore, quite surprising to come across a pre-arranged riot. That’s exactly what took place in a game between Śląsk Wrocław and Arka Gdynia in 2003. The fight was centred on Grabiszynska Street, one kilometre from the stadium. The hooligans used knives, cleavers, wooden clubs and stones.
This carried on for a long time until the police finally managed to suppress it. Later on, they claimed that the fight was pre-arranged by the notorious ‘triads’ of Poland.1 person was killed due to stab wounds and 229 people were arrested.
6. The riot that stopped a season
The riot that followed Danubio’s 1-0 victory over Nacional in Uruguay’s premier league, resulted in the season ending prematurely. Fans from both teams invaded the pitch and fought for 15 minutes. Incredibly, no injuries or arrests were reported. The Uruguayan FA gave the league a collective timeout due to improper security.
5. Birmingham vs Leeds 1985
Leeds United fans have been known to cause a lot of trouble over the years. A tussle between the Leeds and Birmingham supporters proved to be fatal for a 14 year old lad, who was crushed to death by a wall which collapsed outside the stadium. The Leeds faithful tore up seats, set fire to the stalls and threw concrete at the opposition supporters. Even the Leeds head coach, couldn’t calm the crowd and was targeted by missiles. This incident was one of the murkiest in English football.
4. Greeks torch stadium
A game between Olympiakos and Panathaniakos turned out to be fiesty as ever, as fans literally set the stadium on fire.Many had entered without tickets and brought with them, an amazing arsenal which included clubs, metal rods, flares and firebombs made of gasoline and liquid ammonia.
When the bombs were sighted, the game was immediately called off following which, fans set the seats on fire before igniting the stadium’s electronic scoreboard. Surprisingly, only 9 people were reported injured.
3. Heysel riot 1985 : A shaky stadium coupled with poor management – Recipe for disaster!
A European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus that brought so much promise and excitement, was marred by gruesome scenes in the stands. A combination of poor stadium quality , inadequate segregation and inexperienced handling, led to death of 39 supporters.
Many Liverpool and Juventus fans were put in the ‘neutral’ end. Tensions soared between them and eventually, Juventus fans fled to safety from the Liverpool supporters, but due to the increased weight, the wall separating the Juventus end and the neutral end buckled and collapsed.
The game was eventually played, but the win for Juventus hardly mattered anymore.
2. Riots in Egypt : Political involvement in sport?
A massive riot took place at the Port Said stadium in Egypt following a game between Al Masry and Al Ahly. Thousands of Al Masry supporters entered the stadium with weapons such as stones, clubs and swords in order to attack the Al Ahly supporters.
There were suspected of rumors of political involvement, which seemed to have triggered this event. Even the Al Ahly coach, Manuel Jose, was under the same impression, calling it an ‘orchestrated massacre’.
At least 79 people were killed. Some were stabbed and clubbed, while some were deliberately thrown from the stands. Subsequent games were cancelled and postponed.
1. Hillsborough Disaster : Shameful display from the police
Arguably, the worst stadium related disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death ( with 766 injured) during a game between Liverpool and Nottingham forest.
Liverpool fans were given the Lepping’s Lane stand reached by a limited number of turnstiles, thereby causing overcrowding. In order to establish control over this situation, the Chief Superintendent decided to open up another exit gate which led to a tunnel which was unmanned. As a result of this negligence by the officials, a crush barrier broke and people were falling on top of each other.
The sights were really gruesome, with supporters having to tear the advertising hoardings in order to stretcher away the injured and the deceased. The police were quick to blame the supporters but after years of trial, justice was delivered to the families of the victims as poor management and security from the officials was the real reason behind this disaster.