Bells rang out tonight in Liverpool to mark the 25th anniversary of the Heysel football disaster.
Thirty-nine chimes were sounded at the town hall in memory of the number of people who died after gathering to watch Liverpool play Juventus in the 1985 European Cup final at Belgium’s ageing national stadium.
The football fans, who were mainly Italian, were killed when a wall collapsed amid scenes of violence in Brussels. More than 600 other people were injured.
Flags at all Liverpool FC’s buildings were flown at half-mast today as a show of respect, while the club’s managing director Christian Purslow attended a memorial service in Turin.
Supporters from both teams also linked up to play a friendly at the club’s Kirkby Academy.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Juventus fan Serafino Ingardia said: “Having lived in Liverpool for over five years, I have seen with my own eyes how Liverpool fans regret that tragic night and feel genuinely sorry for what shouldn’t have happened.
“We are just trying to get Reds and Bianconeri together 25 years after Heysel. I have long been discussing about an event which could send a positive message to both Juve and Liverpool fans, and we felt the 25th anniversary would be a fitting time to do this.
“I spoke to Andrea Lorentini, who lost a parent in the tragedy and is the head of the ’Comitato Heysel’ (victim support group). He told me that a friendly game would be welcomed by the families and that he is really touched that Liverpool and Juventus fans will be remembering those who died on this anniversary.”
Liverpool supporter Dave Usher told the website: “Serafino mentioned the idea of this game to me over a year ago, and I felt it was a great idea especially to play it on the day of the 25th anniversary.
“Hopefully relations between the two sets of supporters will continue to improve, and if playing a game like this helps even in the tiniest way, then it’s a worthwhile exercise.
“We just wanted to put on a united front in memory of those who died on that tragic night 25 years ago, and to show people in Italy that we haven’t forgotten.”
Yesterday during a service ahead of the official anniversary attended by consul for Italy Nunzia Bertali, the Lord Mayor of Liverpool said the city could relate to the suffering caused by the Heysel disaster – which saw English clubs handed a five-year ban from European football.
Hazel Williams drew a comparison with Hillsborough, saying: “We as a city know more than most about football-related tragedy and the scale of human suffering.
“Regardless of how much time passes, we will never forget those people who didn’t return to their families.”
The 1985 final went ahead, despite objections from both managers, and Juventus won the match 1-0 with a second half penalty.
Those who died were aged between 11 and 58. They included 32 Italian fans of Juventus, four Belgians, two French people and a man from Northern Ireland.
Despite criticism of both Uefa and the Belgian Football Association over the condition of the stadium and the ticketing allocation, no official inquiry into the disaster was held.
No further football matches took place at Heysel and, in 1994, the stadium was demolished and the King Baudouin Stadium built on the site.
After a five-month trial in Belgium in 1989, 14 Liverpool fans were given three-year sentences for involuntary manslaughter.