Blues fans Luzhniki tribute
Before kick-off today, Chelsea fans out here in Moscow will be laying a tribute at a memorial outside the Luzhniki Stadium to a disaster that for many years was football’s major untold story.
Tomorrow (October 20) is the anniversary of the day in 1982 when many Spartak Moscow fans died in a crush near the end of one of their games.
Naturally the home fans will be marking the anniversary and in a sign of solidarity with all football supporters, their Chelsea equivalents who have travelled to Russia will be paying their own respects. England of course has suffered the pain of stadium tragedy too.
What now seems remarkable is that the Lukhniki disaster unfolded with a crowd of not many more than 10,000 inside a stadium that holds close on 80,000.
Spartak were playing Haarlem from Holland in a Uefa Cup tie on a freezing night even by Moscow’s October standards.
In a scenario similar to the Ibrox disaster in Glasgow 1971, fans were leaving close to the end when a goal was scored, causing many to turn back. What is believed to have happened is the crush caused by the meeting of the human tides was exacerbated by a police line demanding to carry out a check on everyone leaving.
The slippery conditions under foot played a part as well and many were trampled to death.
This was in the years before the term Glasnost was known around the world and the Soviet authorities covered up the tragedy, only admitting to injuries.
It took until 1989 and a changing political scene in this part of the world for the full story to be reported with a death toll given at 66 (the same as Ibrox), although some believe it extended into the hundreds.
A memorial monument was placed three years later outside the stadium, near where the tragedy occurred with the names of the 66 upon it, and an explanation in several languages including English.
In 2007, Guus Hiddink was much involved in organising a benefit match on the occasion of the 25th anniversary.
Old Blue Eyes