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Clubs and families remember Heysel victims 30 years on

29 May 2015, 15:40

Brussels - Services in Brussels, Liverpool and Turin on Friday commemorated the 39 people, mostly Italians, who were crushed and trampled to death after fighting between rival fans before the European Cup final at the Heysel Stadium 30 years ago.

At the site where a wall collapsed, under pressure from Juventus supporters pushed back by Liverpool supporters, a crowd including some victims' families laid wreaths and released 39 balloons beside a plaque bearing the names of those killed.

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The tragedy in Brussels occurred after rival fans threw missiles, including stones, in the lead-up to the match.

A group of Liverpool fans charged into the rival section, causing the Juventus fans to retreat.

Many were driven to the wall, at the side.

It collapsed causing the death of 39 mostly Juventus fans and injured about 600 others.

"It's always painful. Thirty years later, it's still painful," said Charline Francois, whose brother Jacques was among those killed.

"It's great to organise a commemoration because it's all about saying that we don't forget, but for the family it's tough."

Sergio Brio, who played for Juventus that evening, said he always felt uneasy returning to the ground, which was later revamped and renamed the King Baudouin Stadium.

"How do I feel today? Like I felt during the years when I was in Belgium and every time I came back to play in this stadium. I always felt odd, weird," Brio said.

Juventus won the match, which went ahead despite the tragedy, 1-0 thanks to a penalty scored by current UEFA president Michel Platini.

In a statement, the former France captain recalled the events of May 29, 1985, and said he and colleagues work every day to ensure there will never be a repeat of the horror.

"I continue to play in that final," said Platini. "It hasn't left me, just like it hasn't left anyone else who was there that night, and remains with all those who lost a loved one, for whom everything changed in a few terrible minutes."

Platini was on Friday at the FIFA Congress in Zurich where special mention was made of the disaster and delegates stood in silence to remember them and other football personalities who have died in the last year.

In Turin, home of Juventus, victims' families were to attend a church service along with the entire squad and staff of the club.

In Liverpool, the club chaplain held a memorial service on Friday morning, with the 1985 captain Phil Neal placing a floral tribute and Juventus's sporting director Gianluca Pessotto and former player Massimo Bonini laying 39 white lilies.

English soccer clubs were banned from European competition for five years and Liverpool kept out until 1992 following the tragedy.

Events at Heysel, and the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield in 1989, when 96 mostly Liverpool fans were crushed to death at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, sparked a review of stadiums and a move to all-seater venues.

- Reuters


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