10 Unforgettable Sports Disasters Around The World

On November 14, 1970, an airplane crash devastated the football team from Marshall University, killing 37 players, 8 coaches, and 25 boosters. Join us in exploring some of the worst sports disasters to happen around the world...

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Fire at Happy Valley Racecourse Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong was the site of a mega-disaster on February 26, 1918, when a terrace collapsed, starting an enormous blaze that killed at least 576 people. Because of badly planned exits, the spectators at the horse races were unable to escape the fire, which lasted for around 20 minutes. This disaster was the most deadly in the history of sports.

A Lima Football Riot Resulted in Hundreds of Deaths A football riot at the Estadio Nacional occurred on May 24, 1964, during a game being played between Peru and Argentina. A perceived bad referee call on a play by a Peruvian goalie started a riot when fans became angered and tried to storm the field even though Peru was ahead in the game by a score of 1-0. Police began firing tear gas, which caused a stampede, resulting in the deaths of 318 people as they tried to escape through the exits.

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Bullfighting Ring Disaster in Columbia A shoddily built set of stands in Columbia at the Corralejas bullring on January 20, 1980, resulted in the deaths of 222 spectators at the event, including young children. A violent thunderstorm moved into the area, reducing the ground to mud, which caused the stands to collapse as people rushed to get out of the rain. The accident was so horrific that this event was canceled for the next 20 years.

The Sports Arena Stampede in 1982 In Russia at Central Lenin Stadium in the Grand Sports Arena on October 20, the second-round match was being played for the UEFA Cup between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem. It was reported that a woman lost one of her shoes and people stopped to help her look for it. This caused the large crowd to start stumbling over each other, which ended up killing 340 sports fans in the stampede that followed.

The Race Track Disaster at LeMans In 1955, a sports disaster at Le Mans, France, at the motor race at Circuit de la Sarthe cost the lives of one of the drivers and 83 spectators.  It also injured an additional 120. Pierre Levegh, the driver, was in a new Mercedes 300 SLR when his vehicle went out of control and struck an Austin-Healey while traveling at around 150 mph. The car went airborne and started somersaulting, as wreckage from the vehicle flew through the air. The vehicle burst into flames, and the tragedy caused several nations to ban motorsports until improvements could be made to the racetracks.

Mid-Air Collision Claims Lives of Uzbek Football Players A mid-air collision in August 1979 killed the entire Uzbek football team. As they were on their way to Crimea, their plane was mistakenly placed in the flight path of another aircraft, and the two collided. The crash killed 178 onboard both planes above the city of Dniprodzerzhynsk in Ukraine. The team’s head coach had not been on the plane and he rebuilt the team to finish out the season.

Fans Die at Hillsborough, England, Football Game The sports disaster at Hillsborough happened on April 15, 1989 due to overcrowding at the stadium. Because of the large numbers of fans attending the Nottingham Forest and Liverpool semi-final, people began climbing over the fences to get a better view. A barrier broke, which caused people to fall on top of one another, resulting in 96 fatalities.

Violent Storm Leads to Many Deaths at Kathmandu, Nepal Ninety-three people died on March 12, 1988, when they were crushed while attending a soccer match in Nepal. A dangerous storm came into the area carrying hail, lightning, and high winds that caused the 30,000 sports fans to panic. Only one of the eight exits at the stadium was unlocked for them to make their escape, and 93 people were crushed and trampled to death, with another 100 injured.

The U.S. Figure Skating Team Lost in 1961 Disaster Eighteen members of the U.S. team were heading to Prague, Czechoslovakia, on February 15 for the World Figure Skating Championships when their plane crashed in Belgium. The entire team was lost as well as a farmer who was standing on the ground where the plane crashed. The incident resulted in 73 fatalities in total.

Football Team From Marshall University Dies in Plane Crash On November 14, 1970, a chartered jet carrying the Marshall University football team crashed, killing everyone on board. The team was returning from that day’s game, a 17-14 loss to East Carolina University. Thirty-seven Marshall football players were aboard the plane, along with the team’s coach, its doctors, the university athletic director and 25 team boosters. The accident was made into a movie in 2006 called We Are Marshall.