1989: Hillsborough Disaster

A Football Association (FA) Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest hosted at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, was the site of the deaths of 96 fans in attendance at the match.

Moments before kickoff, in an attempt to ease overcrowding at an entrance point, the police commander ordered a gate to be opened to the standing-only central pens in an area that held Liverpool supporters. The influx of people into the already overcrowded pens led to a human crush against the high steel fencing that separated spectators from the playing field.

An initial coroner’s inquest ruled the deaths to be accidental, though an inquest 27 years later ruled the deaths as due to grossly negligent failures by police and emergency medical services.

The disaster led to a number of safety improvements in English football grounds. Over time, this extended to the levels of awareness of other leagues, clubs, franchises, fans, law enforcement, and communities about safety and responsibility for attendance at sport events.