Sports has been subjected to some very terrible unmitigated disasters. Whether natural, man-made or through sheer bad luck it has resulted in some heavy losses. And why do we need to keep the memories of these horrible episodes alive? So the same mistakes are not repeated in the future. Today we have a look at the most unforgettable sporting disasters of all time –

Munich Olympics Massacre (1972)

In the 1972 Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes were shot dead by the Palestinian terrorist group ‘Black September’. Eight Palestinians with bags of weapons jumped the fence that surrounded the Olympic village. The terrorists then entered the Israeli accommodation and took their athletes as hostages, threatening to kill them if the Israeli authorities did not release 234 Palestinians. In this shocking disaster, 11 Israeli athletes, a German police officer and 5 of the Palestinians died.

Heysel Stadium Disaster (1985)

This disaster is often called the darkest hour in the history of the UEFA competitions. In 1985, Liverpool and Juventus, two of the biggest clubs in Europe, were facing each other for the first time in a European Cup final. Approximately 1 hour before the match, a large group of Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from Juventus fans, and ran back into a concrete retaining wall. Fans already seated near the wall were crushed, and eventually the wall collapsed. Many people climbed over to safety, but many others died or were badly injured. In this disaster 39 supporters died and over 350 were injured.

Death of Ayrton Senna (1994)

On May 1, 1994, Ayrton Senna, three-time Formula One World Champion, died in an accident after his car crashed into a concrete barrier during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. He was actually in the lead when he crashed. The previous day, Roland Ratzenberger died when his car crashed during qualification for the race. His and Senna’s accidents were the first fatal accidents to occur during a Formula One race in 12 years. Senna is still considered as one of the best drivers in the sport, and his death led to a series of changes in the way safety measures were implemented in the sport.

Munich Air Tragedy (1958)

The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when the British European Airways flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a snow-covered runway at Munich Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the “Busby Babes”, along with supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 on the aircraft died. The injured were taken to hospital, where three more died, resulting in 23 fatalities with 21 survivors. The football team was returning from a European Cup match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) against Red Star Belgrade.

Hillsborough Tragedy (1989)

The Hillsborough Disaster took place on April 15, 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Overcrowding in the stadium caused fans to climb over side fences just to be able to witness the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs. A crush barrier broke off and because of the ensuing chaos, fans started to fall on top of each other, which resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 766 others. The incident has since been blamed primarily on the police for letting too many people enter the stadium.

Death of Hansie Cronje (2001)

On June 1, 2001, Hansie Cronje, a famous South African cricketer, was flying home, but the aircraft lost visibility and the plane crashed into the mountains. There are theories that Cronje was murdered upon the orders of a cricket betting syndicate because of his involvement in match fixing, but none of them have been substantiated. The cricketing world was shocked to its roots when the South African captain, recognized as one of the nicest guys in the game, was implicated in a match-fixing scandal, for which he was given a life ban from cricket.

Moscow Luzhniki Disaster (1982)

This disaster took place at the Grand Sports Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium in Russia on October 20, 1982, during the UEFA Cup second round match between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem. A stampede started after a young woman who had lost her shoe on the stairs stopped and tried to find it. The people behind her also stopped and tried to help her look for her shoe, but more and more fans were joining the crowd on the stairs, trying to push their way through and unaware of the cause of the hold-up. This simple set of acts caused a massive chain-reaction, eventually causing a terrible stampede. Around 340 fans of FC Spartak Moscow died in the unfortunate incident.

Alianza Lima Air Tragedy (1987)

The 1987 Alianza Lima air disaster occurred on 8 December 1987, when a Peruvian Navy Fokker F27-400M chartered by Peruvian football club Alianza Lima crashed into the Pacific Ocean seven miles from Jorge Chávez International Airport near the city of Callao. Of the 44 people on board only the pilot survived. The Peruvian Naval Aviation Commission investigated the accident and created a report but never officially disclosed its content. Eventually the Navy’s accident report was discovered and details of it were released. In the report, investigators cited pilot error as the primary cause of the accident.

Kathmandu Stadium Disaster (1988)

The Kathmandu Stadium Disaster occurred on 12 March 1988 at the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal during a soccer match between Janakpur Cigarette Factory Ltd and Liberation Army of Bangladesh for the 1988 Tribhuvan Challenge Shield. 93 people were killed and 100 more were injured when attempting to flee from a hailstorm inside the hypethral national Stadium. The crowds surged towards the only cover (the west stand) but were beaten back by the police. They then returned to the south terrace where a crush developed in a tunnel exit through the terrace. The crowd could not escape because the stadium doors were locked, causing a fatal crush at the front.

Death of Emiliano Sala (2019)

Argentine striker Emiliano Sala had successful goalscoring record for Nantes, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer for three consecutive seasons. His form prompted a move to Cardiff City in January 2019, for a club record fee. Sala died in a plane crash off Alderney on 21 January 2019. He was a passenger aboard a Piper Malibu light aircraft flying from Nantes to Cardiff. An initial three-day search covered 1,700 square miles across the English Channel. Two subsequent private searches were launched, resulting in the discovery of the wreckage on 3 February; Sala’s body was recovered four days later. An official report said that “neither the pilot nor aircraft had the required licenses or permissions to operate commercially.”

Let us hope & pray that such tragedies are averted at all costs. And Sports continues to flourish in the noble cause of bringing together people from all parts of the world.