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Liverpool fans say Hillsborough disaster trauma reignited by Champions League final

Hillsborough survivors have told ITV News about the trauma that has been retriggered by the near miss in Paris.


It is almost 34 years since men, women and children experienced a catastrophic crush in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough.

Ninety-seven people lost their lives as a result of the disaster. Thousands of survivors were left with a lifetime of trauma.

Seven months ago, in May 2022, tens of thousands of Liverpool fans travelled to Paris for the Champions League final.


  • The scenes outside the Stade de France, as thousands of fans were held in close confinement as they attempted to get into the stadium for the Champions League final.


It should have been UEFA’s showpiece club event.

Instead, chaos ensued outside the stadium, around 15,000 supporters were held for several hours in packed, stationary crowds near the turnstiles and were then tear-gassed by police.

In October an independent panel led by Professor Phil Scraton of Queens University Belfast and based on eyewitness accounts from almost 500 supporters outside the Stade de France, concluded Liverpool fans were “treated with contempt” before, during and after the 2022 Champions League final.

The report’s authors state: “Held for several hours in a bottleneck close to the ground, then again in static queues at malfunctioning turnstiles, fans were subjected to unprovoked tear-gassing by the paramilitary police.

"On leaving the stadium they were attacked at knife point by gangs who stole their possessions.”

Hillsborough survivors have told ITV News about the trauma that has been retriggered by the near miss in Paris.

Worse still, the families of two supporters who took their own lives in the days after, believe the events in the French capital contributed to their deaths.

The Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield. Credit: PA Images

They were both known to the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, set up to provide therapy to those living with haunting memories of Hillsborough.

Their Co-Chair Peter Scarfe says he fears more supporters could be experiencing a retriggering of old trauma.

"I think there’s more people who have taken their own lives," he said. "And I think there’ll be more.

"The thing with trauma is that it doesn’t come out straight away.

"You may think you’re okay but if you’re still not sleeping, if you’re still struggling with anxiety then most likely you’ve got PTSD."

Reds fans remembering those who died before a match at Anfield Credit: PA Images

He draws similarities between Hillsborough and the untruths from authorities that followed the disaster.

He cites the message put out by UEFA inside the stadium, about the late arrival of fans.

“It’s the blame...” Peter says, “Are we going to have to wait another 30 years for justice?”

Mark Stringer was crushed so severely at Hillsborough that he was knocked unconscious. He went to the UEFA Champions League final in May with his son.

Hours before kick-off he was led into tightly-packed crowds all trying to access stadium turnstiles.

He said: “Having nowhere to go forward because of the massive crowd and nowhere to go behind because there were people coming behind and 10 foot walls either side and you feel that anxiety and you know that something’s coming.

"You are taken straight back to where you’re being crushed. My son knew it. He kept asking, are you okay dad, are you okay. He knew.”

Liverpool fans waiting to be allowed into the ground. Credit: PA Images

Another Hillsborough survivor, Gareth O’Leary believes there is a shared fear among those who were at Hillsborough.

“There’s a collective consciousness about what’s happened before, whether we like to admit it or not.

"There is a certain behaviour connected with trauma that we all show in different ways and when you start to see them appear and affect others and ourselves, that’s when it becomes very distressing.

"And it won’t end today and it won’t end this year, there will be some people that will go so far that some people have taken their own lives.”

A month after the final UEFA issued a “sincere apology” to spectators “who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build up to the UEFA Champions League final…”

However, the governing body has not admitted any failings.

A report into its handling of the 2022 Champions League final was due out at the end of November. The supporters who attended the match await its findings.


Worried about mental health?

CALM

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Mind

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PAPYRUS

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINE247 is the charity’s confidential 24 hour helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

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Samaritans

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YoungMinds

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It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

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