The 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster brought thousands of mourners to Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium Wednesday to remember the 96 people who died and hundreds more who were injured. ABC reports that over 20,000 people attended the Hillsborough Disaster memorial service where the names of all 96 victims were read out loud.
On the 15th of April, 1989, during the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs at Hillsborough Stadium, overcrowding at the Leppings Lane End terrace caused a fatal human crush that resulted in 96 deaths and thousands of physical and psychiatric injuries. After the disaster, Lord Justice Taylor conducted an inquiry into the Hillsborough Disaster that later became known as the Taylor Report. Lord Justice Taylor concluded that the disaster was largely the fault of police failure to control the crowd, and not to the behavior of drunken fans, as the police had accused.
On the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, government minister Andy Burnham called for all documents on the disaster to be made public, which led to a further analysis of the Hillsborough Disaster called the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The panel revealed a police cover-up and confirmed that police failure to direct and then assist the crowd were the cause of the crush and the ensuing injuries deaths.
Police had created too small of a bottle-neck for fans entering the standing areas, and then when a back-up developed, refused to delay the kick-off as had been done in previous years. At this point the crowd was so congested that fans who were denied entry because of ticket problems could not escape and became an obstruction to entering fans. Then, police decided to open up a large exit gate to relief the congestion, but failed to oversee fan distribution into the standing pens. As a result, an overwhelming majority of fans entered the first and second pens. When fans began to break out onto the field and barricades collapsed, police interfered with the rescue conducted by other fans and by emergency personnel. Afterwards, many police officers and The Sun attempted to cover-up the details of the tragedy.
The Taylor Report made several suggestions to improve the safety of future events, including the removal of fences and conversion to all-seater accommodations. Following the “The Football Spectators Act” (1989), the Sport Grounds Safety Authority and the Scottish Premier League have used Lord Taylor’s 76 recommendations to upgrade many stadiums in the name of safety.
Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers, manager of Premier League club Liverpool, commemorated the Hillsborough Disaster with these words:
Those who we lost, and for those of you who have fought and campaigned tirelessly on their behalf and on behalf of the survivors, you are the real true inspiration for us.
photo credit: Gareth Simpson via flickr