Tragic echoes of Hillsborough

As the bodies of 82 soccer fans were laid out under the glare of Guatemala's Mateo Flores stadium lights yesterday, the parallels with Hillsborough were impossible to ignore.

One man who lost his two teenage daughters in the 1989 disaster in which 96 fans were crushed to death, said the latest soccer stadium tragedy "was Hillsborough all over again".

"I immediately felt anger. Will they never learn? Have people not listened to us? We predicted there would be another disaster but hoped it would never come true," Trevor Hicks, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said.

Mr Hicks had watched helplessly as his two teenage daughters died in the crush, trapped behind the fences on the terraces of the Sheffield stadium. A large group of fans had gathered outside and clamoured to be let in. Fearing a riot, police opened the gate and allowed the group to enter an already filled terrace section, trapping fans along the fences.

First reports of the disaster on Wednesday night at the stadium where the Costa Rican and Guatemalan national teams were to compete for a berth in the 1998 World Cup in France spoke of overcrowding, a crush in a tunnel and people being trapped against pitchside fences. The echoes of Sheffield were stark.

"It came flooding back, and I felt physically sick," Mr Hicks said. "The lessons of Hillsborough haven't been learned, just as the lessons of Heysel and Ibrox haven't been learned."

Survivors' testimonies also had terrible echoes of 1989. Guatemalan and Costa Rican fans tried to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on victims, many blue and purple from apparent lack of oxygen. Bodies lay for hours inside the stadium, at least 15 children reportedly among them.

"Thoughts of a similar tragedy inflicted on our own football seven years ago still remain with us," the English Football Association's chief executive, Graham Kelly, said. "The events of that dreadful day are somehow still difficult to comprehend or accept. Now the world family of football mourns for Guatemala."

If the tragedy echoed that of Hillsborough so, too, did the mistakes. The use of fences to prevent fans getting on to the pitch was a "disgrace", the chairman of Liverpool city council's working party on Hillsborough said yesterday.

"I consider that the Hillsborough tragedy might not have been as great if they never had the fences up. If a problem develops there is nowhere for people to go," Jack Spriggs said. "In Britain, fences in major stadiums no longer exist to allow for the remote possibility of something like Hillsborough happening again, and we have also seen the introduction of all-seater stadiums."

In Britain, the inquiry after the 1989 disaster changed the face of football stadiums for ever. Lord Justice Taylor, who headed it, said inadequate responses to the "gross overcrowding" had caused the tragedy. "[Pens] were already over-full because no safe maximum capacities had been laid down, no attempt made to control entry to individual pens numerically, and there was no effective monitoring of crowd density," he said.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam