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Top 10 Biggest Sports Disasters

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Sports Disasters

Sport brings joy to the whole world. We are full of excitement in the stadium or in front of the television. But sports also have a dark side. Ten of the biggest sports disasters listed.

10. Andrés Escobar shot dead

Expectations were high for the Columbia national football team at the 1994 World Cup. With technical midfielder Carlos Valderama and sensational striker Faustino Asprilla, Columbia was seen as a dangerous outsider. The tournament ended in disappointment and Columbia was eliminated after two lost games. In the second game, they knocked home country the United States off the mat for a long time.

Then in a sparse counter-attack, defender Andrés Escobar tries to block a razor-sharp cross with a sliding tackle. That works, but the ball disappears into the own goal (see video above). Columbia eventually loses the game 2-1. Two weeks later, the football world is shocked by the news that Escobar was shot dead in his car. It is generally believed that he was killed because of the own goal. 120,000 people attended his funeral.

9. Ibrox Disaster

Ibrox Stadium (formerly Ibrox Park) is the stadium of Glasgow Rangers football club. The stadium has had many wonderful moments, but strangely enough, two major disasters have occurred. The first took place in 1902 when part of the wooden stand collapsed during an international match against Scotland. 25 people were killed and more than 500 were injured. The disaster of January 2, 1971 was greater. During a derby, rival Celtic take the lead in the 90th minute and part of the crowd begins to leave the stadium. At the last minute, Stein scores the equalizer and chaos ensues on a staircase, causing people to fall over and be crushed. It results in 66 fatalities, most of which die from suffocation.

8. Superga Airplane Crash

After the Second World War, AC Torino was the master of the Italian football league. The team was nicknamed Il Grande Torino because they had won four consecutive championships from 1946. On May 4, 1949, a plane with the team on board was caught in a thunderstorm while landing. Due to poor visibility, the plane collided with the basilica on the Superga hill near Turin.

All 31 people on board, including 18 players, were killed. Three players from the great Torino, including the Hungarian star player Kubala, escaped the disaster for various reasons. The last four league matches have been played by the club’s youth team. Out of respect, the opponents did the same and Torino eventually became champion. However, the club’s role was over and it was only in 1976 that Torino would become champion of Italy again.

7. 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours Disaster

The accident at the 23rd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the greatest tragedy in motorsport history. On the 35th lap of the race on June 11, 1955, Mike Hawthorn tries to slow down for a pit stop. Pursuing Lance Macklin and Pierre Levegh are surprised by his sudden maneuver and Macklin tries to swerve. Levegh’s Mercedes 300 SLR crashes into the side of Macklin’s car at about 150 mph and is launched into the air. The car hits a barrier but flies over at great speed into the crowd. Levegh is killed instantly and the explosion in combination with flying parts causes 83 fatalities.

6. SLM Disaster (Colorful Team)

In the summer of 1989, the Colorful Elftal, a selection of professional players of Surinamese descent, would play a football tournament in Suriname. Part of the team flew from Schiphol via Miami to Paramaribo. Hennie Meijer and Stanley Menzo, who actually did not have permission from Ajax to participate in the tournament, had already left for Suriname. On June 7, the flight arrives with a lot of delay near the airport, where there is a lot of fog. On a fourth attempt at landing, the aircraft flies too low, hits two trees and crashes upside down. Only eleven of the 187 on board survived the disaster. The dead include 14 football players and a coach. Three players -Sigi Lens, Radjin de Haan and Edu Nandlal- survive the disaster.

5. The Death of Ayrton Senna

Brazilian Ayrton Senna was a very successful Formula I driver who became world champion three times with an adventurous driving style. In particular, the rivalry with Alain Prost, his teammate at McLaren, resulted in many spectacular races. In 1994, Senna signed with William-Renault. He started the new season with difficulty, probably because he had to get used to the new car that was adapted to the latest rules. Senna foresaw the possibility of a serious accident. On May 1, 1994, Senna was killed in an accident at the San Marino circuit.

The day before, Roland Ratzenberger had already fatally crashed during qualifying. Senna was in the lead when he left the track at 310 km/h on lap 7 at the Tamburello corner. In a flash, he slowed to 218 km/h, the final speed at which he rammed into the concrete wall. For a moment, Senna appeared to move his head, but died of his head injuries while being carried from the car. In Brazil, Senna’s death was considered a national tragedy. The accident was ultimately due to a faulty steering column. Not a single Formula I driver has been killed in a fatal accident since Ayrton Senna.

4. Estadio Nacional Disaster (Lima, 1964)

Riots and football have unfortunately been inextricably linked over the years. The biggest disaster surrounding a football match remains that of the Estadio Nacional in Lima. On May 24, 1964, home country Peru plays an Olympic qualifier against Argentina. With a score of 0-1, a goal from Peru was disallowed just before time to the great anger of the public. To prevent fans from storming the field, the police fire tear gas at the crowd, who are trying to flee the stadium in panic. However, the exits were closed with steel gates until the end of the game. 320 people died of suffocation or injuries after being trampled in the stairways.

3. Munich air disaster (1958)

Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, had a very talented group of football players under his leadership in the late 1950s. With the young players who mainly came from their own youth academy, United won the title in the 1955-1956 and 1956-1957 seasons. The Busby Babes entered European football for the second time the following season.

After the successful quarterfinal against Red Star Belgrade, the plane had to make a stopover in Munich. After two failed take-off attempts, the aircraft was unable to gain enough speed due to snowfall and skidded off the runway. Eight United players were killed in the crash. Two players who survived the disaster, Bill Foulkes and Bobby Charlton, would eventually win the European Cup I in 1968 with a reborn Manchester United.

2. Hostage-taking during the Olympic Games (Munich 1972)

The 1972 Munich Olympics are inextricably linked to the terrorist attack that ultimately killed 11 Israeli athletes. On September 5, 1972, Palestinian terrorists raid the Olympic village and take several members of the Israeli team hostage. Two athletes are immediately shot dead. The terrorists demand, among other things, the release of 234 Palestinian prisoners. The next day, the terrorists, together with the hostages, are supposedly given a safe-conduct. At the airport where a plane is waiting, the German police start a chaotic liberation campaign. During the firefight, all athletes are killed. Despite heavy criticism, the 1972 Olympics will continue as normal after that.

1. Hillsborough Disaster


The semi-final of the 1989 FA Cup between the English football clubs Liverpool and Nottingham Forest is played on a neutral ground: the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. Due to a combination of circumstances, the box of the Liverpool supporters becomes overcrowded just before the game. The pressure that arises creates a panic situation and supporters try to escape over the fences. When a barrier in the box breaks, supporters fall over each other. In the pressure that arises 96 Liverpool fans die, some of them are suffocated standing. In the chaos, mainly fellow fans tend to the injured on the field. Over the years, various committees have been charged with investigating the causes of the disaster. In the end, the Liverpool fans are cleared of any guilt and it is concluded that at least 41 victims could have survived if emergency services had functioned properly that day.

There is much bitterness among Liverpool supporters about the aftermath of Hillsborough. During the initial investigations, testimonials critical of the role of the police were altered and an article in The Sun made up various misbehavior by fans during the disaster. Hillsborough has had a major impact on the improvement of football stadiums and the disappearance of standing areas. During the initial investigations, testimonials critical of the role of the police were altered and an article in The Sun made up various misbehavior by fans during the disaster. Hillsborough has had a major impact on the improvement of football stadiums and the disappearance of standing areas. During the initial investigations, testimonials critical of the role of the police were altered and an article in The Sun made up various misbehavior by fans during the disaster. Hillsborough has had a major impact on the improvement of football stadiums and the disappearance of standing areas.

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