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The Worst Spectator Accidents in Sports History

sports spectators tragedies

Worst spectator accidents have shown the horrific side of sports enthusiasm.

In Nürburgring, Nissan factory driver Jann Mardenborough sent his GT-R soaring through the air. After the Nissan hit the wall, it flipped over the primary catch fence and landed on its roof. Although there was a secondary fence intended to prevent people from going near the main fence, several of the spectators suffered injures while one resulted in a fatality. This unfortunate event is one among a history of spectator accidents.

• Pierre Levegh was tired and hit an embankment sending it into the crowd
• The Sincelejo Corraleja collapsed during a bullfight killing 222 people
• In the Hillsborough Disaster 96 people were killed and 766 were injured

In 2012, gambling news was made at a routine college football game at the Georgia Dome that took an unfortunate path. A fan from the University of Tennessee died from falling unto another spectator causing a second injury. The 35-foot drop was proven to be the fault of negligence on the spectator’s part, but it doesn’t take away from the loss of life. Let’s look at more spectator accidents.

Worst spectator accidents starts with Juan Peron’s Argentine disaster

In 1952, Juan Peron, the president of Argentina, wanted to give his citizens something to distract them from their poverty. Inspired by the success of Argentine drivers Juan Fangio and Jose Gonzales, Peron constructed a race track and approved it for the country’s first ever Formula One race. The event proved too popular for the Argentine crowds as they broke all the barriers and even went onto the track at times. It resulted in 10 lost lives, including the decapitation of a child.

The open road endurance race known as the Mille Miglia or “Thousand Miles” provided European car manufacturers the opportunities to compare the performance of their cars.

Mille Miglia accident Alonso De Portago

Alonso De Portago’s car after The Mille Miglia accident (Photo: CNN)

Ferrari driver Alonso De Portago was driving down the winding dangerous road, while thinking about his divorce, secret marriage and his simultaneous affairs with three supermodels. As a result, his car blew a tire, slid sideways and ended up killing 10 spectators.

The 1955 Lemans Grand Prix accident is considered one of the worst in the history of racing and definitely qualifies as one of the worst spectator accidents. This 24-hour racing event was normally split between two drivers. It was the arrogance of driver Pierre Levegh that caused this travesty. Determined to race the full 24 hours himself, a fatigued Levegh struck his Mercedes into an embankment and few into the spectator stands. The flying pieces of metal that flew from the wreck decapitated several spectators.

1955 Le Mans formula 1 tragedy

The show of horror (Photo: Jalopnik)

Worst spectator accidents would have to involve bullfighting. The Sincelejo Corraleja was a bullfighting ring in Colombia that was home to the annual “Jesus’ Sweet Name” festival. The bullfighters were mostly comprised of amateurs trying to win cash and bets from wealthy land owners, an act that is not entirely aligned with Colombian gambling laws. Amidst the events, the poorly constructed stadium collapsed killing 222 spectators.

Football has its place among the worst spectator accidents

Around the world, football could be a dangerous sport to visitors as crowds were often filled beyond capacity in the history of the sport. Such an event happened in Ibrox Park in 1971 when there was a partial collapse that occurred while spectators were exiting the stadium. As a result, 66 people died and bodies were stacked up to six feet deep in certain areas. The event caused European football pitches to be redesigned for safety.

Ibrox Park football match tragedy 1971

66 victims… (Photo: The football mind)

Unfortunately this didn’t prevent the Hillsborough Disaster on 1989. Probably not among the most memorable bookie stories, The Sheffield town faced tragedy as numerous fans were pressed against anti-hooligan fences. As more people streamed into the hallways, spectators were suffocating. Some fans tried to climb up the fence in order to breathe, but without success. Although the game was stopped, at least 96 people were killed and 766 injured in the largest football stadium disaster in English history.

Hillsborough tragedy football stadium

The football match of horror (Photo: allsports) 

Facilities aren’t the only ways spectator tragedies can occur in a stadium. Unfortunately some punters who bet on sports in the UK could make more money waging on fan violence. In a 1964 match between Peru and Argentina, one Peruvian goal was dismissed in front of an angry crowd. The stadium gates were locked with padlocks leaving two groups of hooligans facing each other with only two minutes left in the match. As the crowds battled each other, police fired tear gas into the crowds killing 318 spectators.

In 2012 at Port Said, Egypt the fans of the Al-Mary football club stormed the pitch with make-shift weapons and a rumble ensued. The altercation ended with 79 people dead and 1,000 wounded. Because of the lack of security presence, many felt that this event was staged by the Egyptian Government to create a rationale for greater military control over civilian uprisings.

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