Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/858/20805
The Socialist 3 June 2015 |
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Heysel Stadium tragedy 30 years ago
How socialist councillors built bridges
Tony Mulhearn, former Liverpool city councillor from 1983-87 and past President of Liverpool Labour Party writes in reply to a Guardian article on the Heysel stadium disaster.
Ed Vulliamy's piece is important in reminding everyone of the appalling events of 29 May 1985 in which 39 Juventus fans died at a European Cup final at Heysel stadium in Brussels. Unfortunately he also suggests that no apology was received from Liverpool city council.
On the contrary, Labour councillors took the initiative and suggested that a delegation be sent from Liverpool to Turin to offer condolences and to discuss with the authorities what could be done to get to the root of the social conditions which breed violence.
The horrific scenes witnessed on television appalled the whole population of Liverpool.
But it later became quite clear that inadequate facilities at Heysel Stadium, lack of proper policing and chaos in the allocation of tickets and seats for the different fans had all also contributed to this tragedy. Liverpool council's architect had conclusively proved that the stadium was unsafe.
The red top press unleashed a collective character assassination on Liverpool, a city which dared to oppose Margaret Thatcher's savage cuts. Entirely ignored was the fact that genuine football fans in Liverpool consistently condemned mindless hooliganism and violence.
Many fans also reported that the fascist British National Party were handing out leaflets on the ferry taking fans to the match. The socialist group in the European Parliament also commented that on the Italian side young fascist militants had travelled to Belgium with the intention of having a confrontation with the Liverpool 'reds'.
The owner of the Daily Mirror at the time, pension thief Robert Maxwell, said: "This (Liverpool's stance) is the kind of thing that encourages hooliganism." That revealed the attitude of the powerful and privileged toward Liverpool for making a stand against cuts.