The sport has seen many unfortunate incidents in the past which have led to the loss of lives.

Life is unpredictable and sometimes, very unfortunate incidents leave emotional scars in it. Football, as a sport, work similarly as joys and sadness are also part of the sport. While the joy is embedded with games, goals, chants and trophies – sadness does not only come in defeats. Since the inception of modern football, the world has been shaken up with horrific accidents, unfortunately, associated with the sport, which have led to the loss of many lives. 

Whenever an incident has occurred in football, which have led to the loss of lives, the global community has come together to help in these dire times. While all the help eased the pain, the memories of these following 10 horrific accidents in football have continued to haunt many.

10. Palmas FR plane crash

The most recent incident on this unfortunate list of accidents is the Palmas FR plane crash. The incident took place on 24 January 2021. A private plane, carrying members of Brazilian team Palmas crashed after departing the Palmas–Brigadeiro Lysias Rodrigues Airport. All six persons on board, including four footballers, died in the crash. The rest of the two boarders were the club owner and the pilot.

9. Danish football team plane crash

On July 16, 1960, a flight carrying eight Denmark national team football players for selection trials for the 1960 Olympics crashed. The plane fell in the Oresund strait leading to the death of all eight passengers. The pilot somehow survived the accident but lost a leg.

All eight players were flying to participate in a final trial match at the Herning stadium for the national team selection for the 1960 Olympics. Denmark went on to win silver at the event after losing to Yugoslavia in the final.

8. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter crash

Leicester City players pay their respects to late club owner Vichai (Courtesy: Eurosport)

This was one of the most recent horrific accidents which shook the football fraternity. Leicester City’s former owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was travelling in a helicopter, which crashed after taking off from the King Power Stadium on October 27, 2018. Everyone on board, the pilot and four passengers, including the LCFC owner lost their lives in the crash.

Vichai oversaw Leicester clinch the Premier League title in the 2015-16 season and complete a fairytale in football.

7. Superga air disaster

Juventus fans honour the Superga Air disaster victims (Courtesy: SB Nation)

In one of Italy’s worst air disasters, a flight carrying Torino FC players crashed on the back of Basilica of Superga. The horrific accident occurred on 4 May 1949. All 31 people, including miost of Torino’s first-team players, onboard died in the crash. The passengers also included manager Ernő Egri Erbstein. The team was travelling back after playing a friendly match with Portuguese club SL Benfica.

6. Port Said Stadium riot

In one of the most shocking clashes between fans, 74 people lost their lives inside the Port Said Stadium in Egypt. On February 1, 2012 – a massive riot took place after the Egyptian Premier League game between Al Masry and Al Ahly. Fans of Al Masry stormed the pitch following a 3-1 victory and attacked the rival fans. They were armed with stones and knives as the ensuing clashes with opposition fans led to 74 deaths and more than 500 people suffered injuries. 

5. Zambia football team disaster

On 27 April 1993, a plane carrying the Zambian national football team crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The team was travelling to Dakar in order to face Senegal in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier game. As many as 25 passengers and five crew members lost their lives in the incident. The pilot’s erroneous judgement and faulty equipment led to the accident, according to reports. 

4. Heysel Stadium disaster

The Heysel Stadium in Belgium was witness to a disaster due to clashes between fans of Liverpool FC and Juventus FC. Before the kickoff of the 1985 European Cup final, Liverpool fans charged at the opposition supporters, breaking the fence, which separated the two sets of fans. The ensuing clashes and stampedes led to the death of 39 people and over 600 people were injured. The incident led to UEFA banning English clubs from all its competitions for six years. Liverpool received an extra three years’ ban, which was later reduced to one. 

3. Chapecoense FC plane crash

Players pay respect to the victims (Courtesy: Twitter)

On 28 November 2016, a plane carrying Brazilian football club Chapecoense FC crashed, leading to the death of 71 people. The reasons cited for the crash were fuel exhaustion and poor decision-making from the pilot. Survivors included one crew member, three players and two other passengers. The team was travelling to play the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Final. The people who lost their lives included 19 players, 14 club staff members, nine club board members and four Fox Sports Brazil journalists.

2. Munich air disaster

A plaque at Old Trafford in honour of the Munich Air crash victims Courtesy: Manchester United)

In another horrific accident in football, a British European Airways plane crashed after taking off from the  Munich-Riem Airport in West Germany. The plane was carrying players from Manchester United football club. The players, who lost their lives were later nicknamed “Busby Babes”. There were journalists and supporters with them as well. The crash led to 23 fatalities. United was returning from a European Cup fixture after defeating Red Star Belgrade to make their way into the semi-finals. 

Sir Bobby Charlton, goalkeeper Harry Gregg and manager Sir Matt Busby were few of the survivors. The team lost one of their best generation of players. It took 10 years for the club to recover from the disaster. Sir Matt Busby later won the 1968 European Cup with a new set of players, a decade later. The incident holds an emotional place in the club’s history. Every year, on the anniversary of the accident, the club mourns the victims of the air disaster.

1. Hillsborough disaster

People pay their respects at the Hillsborough Memorial (Courtesy: Reuters)

On 15 April 1989, during an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, a human crush led to the death of 96 people and over 700 injuries. A set of the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield could not contain the influx of fans and the pens were overcrowded leading to the human crush. The death toll is the highest in British sporting history and the day is remembered every year. Furthermore, people come together to pay their respects on each anniversary.

As a result, the judgement ruled that the fans were not responsible for the disaster. For instance, the authorities and stadium infrastructure were collectively responsible for it.

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