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When UEFA banned English clubs

June 2, 2017

This day in football history

(Liverpool FC)

On 2 June 1985, the governing body of European football, UEFA, banned English clubs from participating in European competitions.

UEFA enacted the ban in response to the Heysel Stadium disaster four days prior. On 29 May, at the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus at Heysel Stadium in Brussels, some Liverpool supporters breached a wall separating them from the Juventus supporters and charged at them. The Juventus fans retreated against a retaining wall, which collapsed, injuring approximately 600 people. Thirty nine people died from their injuries.

The English Football Association, in response to pressure from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had already issued its own ban on 29 May to prevent English clubs from playing in Europe. UEFA’s ban was thus not particularly surprising, nor even entirely unwelcome in England. In fact, English FA Secretary Ted Croker lauded UEFA’s decision, stating “There are many of us who don’t want to see us back in Europe until we have our own house in order.”

Although UEFA initially announced that the ban was to be indefinite, it lasted only five years for all English clubs except Liverpool, who were banned for a sixth year due to the club’s role in the disaster.


 

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