Stadiums are instrumental in the overall experience be it during a concert, a sports competition or any event that requires a wide space in order to accommodate more spectators – in short, these venues are oftentimes crucial, not just for the audience, but also for the ones on the field or on stage. However, as much as these stadiums have played a crucial role in hosting some of the most iconic events in history, they have also seen their fair share of tragedies and accidents.
Historically speaking, there are numerous instances wherein a stadium became the cause of a disaster, sometimes claiming the lives of many people and other times injuring more than a hundred spectators. So although these places temporarily house the audience during big events, a few also are witnesses to some of the most tragic catastrophes in history. Here are a few of the worst tragedies that took place in stadiums:
1985 Fire in England’s Valley Parade
First on this list is a stadium in England that burned down more than 30 years ago. The incident occurred far too long ago but it’s consequences still linger in people’s minds. It was on May 11, 1985, when the celebration for Bradford City Football Club’s victory got way out of hand. It was the first time the club had been awarded a trophy in 50 years.
The audience was, of course, reveling as the match with Lincoln City continued. However, toward the end of the first half, the entire stadium was ablaze. It turned out that a cigarette butt had started the fire in the wooden stand, which had not been upgraded prior to the event. The incident took the lives of 56 people and injured more than 260 in a span of just a few minutes – imagine, the fire trucks arrived in less than five minutes after the fire began, but by that time, the flames had already engulfed the entire stadium.
Qatar’s World Cup Stadium
We know what you’re thinking: most of the structures to be used in the 2022 World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar, are not fully built yet, so how can this be included on this list? That’s because the construction workers are the ones who allegedly suffered from this tragedy and not the audience. Reports say that there were already 1,200 workers who died on the site, which does not only spark criticisms but also highlights the unsafe working conditions.
Although unfortunate events are sometimes unavoidable when constructing big buildings, coliseums, and stadiums, Qatar’s case is just harrowing. More than a thousand workers meeting their untimely demise is just a concerning matter not just for the Middle Eastern country but also for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA.
1980 Collapse of the Corralejas Bullring Stadium
Columbia’s bull ring was not so sturdy from the beginning – it’s a three-tier structure that was seemingly assembled just before the annual festival in 1980 but little did the organizers know that one careless mistake could literally take down an entire event. However, the Jan. 20, 1980 event didn’t just kill a lot of people, but it was so tragic that the country halted all traditional activities for 20 years to pay respect to the dead.
Here’s what happened: heavy rains had already been pouring in the area before the big event, and when the bullfight finally took place in the afternoon, a thunderstorm hit, prompting people to leave the makeshift stand and vacating the stadium. Since the area was muddy, the stadium collapsed ensuing chaos everywhere.
Some People were forced to run in a bid to save their lives while others didn’t know which way to turn to. The bullring, which housed four huge bulls, was also destroyed. All in all, there were 222 reported deaths and thousands of casualties. There were 40,000 guests in attendance that day, with some saying they saw blood everywhere.
1964 Riot in Estadio Nacional
Although competition between two teams is oftentimes a healthy and harmless way of having fun, a tragedy that happened in Peru on May 24, 1964, can prove that fans can get pretty out of control. After a referee dismissed a point for the home team that would have put them on equal with the Argentinian team, fans didn’t take too long to start a riot.
Those who were angry with the official headed onto the field while others suffocated in a stampede. The terraces were set ablaze and the fire engulfed the stand. Moreover, the place was filled with smoke, as police mistakenly tried to control the situation by throwing tear gas, which just added to the panic. Then, the wild fans started heading to nearby houses and buildings. As a result, 263 people died in the mayhem.