MILAN (Reuters) – Liverpool FC’s planned victory parade on Sunday has stirred unease for a representative of victims of the Heysel stadium disaster as it coincides with the 37th anniversary of the tragedy.
Liverpool, who play Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday, plan a celebration in their home city after a season in which they have already won the two main domestic cup competitions in England and finished runners-up in the Premier League.
Sunday also marks the anniversary of the Heysel disaster in which 39 supporters of Italian club Juventus were killed when a wall collapsed after Liverpool fans charged them before the European Cup final in Brussels in 1985.
“Linking a Liverpool celebration to May 29th is a bit jarring,” said Andrea Lorentini, who is head of the Heysel families victims’ association and lost his father.
“Considering what their fans did that night, in my opinion May 29th for Liverpool should be a day of mea culpa and reflection, of heartfelt remembrance,” he told Reuters.
Liverpool FC are aware of the issue and acknowledged it when which will be held on Sunday afternoon.
“As the date of the victory parade falls on the anniversary of the Heysel Stadium disaster, throughout the morning LFC, supported by Liverpool City Council, will pay tribute to the 39 supporters who lost their lives on that day,” the club said on its website.
The parade is being held at the invitation of Liverpool City Council who wanted it on a weekend. Most of Liverpool’s players will be departing for international duty by the start of next week.
Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, who played for Liverpool at Heysel, plan to lay a wreath at the Stade de France before the kickoff in Saturday’s final. Further floral tributes will be laid when the squad returns from Paris.
Lorentini was aged three when his father Roberto, a doctor, died at the Heysel stadium while he was trying to help a supporter with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Andrea’s grandfather, Otello, who was at Heysel too and survived, founded the victims’ association and Andrea has run it since 2015.
Andrea, who is a sport journalist and soccer commentator for a local TV station in Tuscany, adds that the present day Liverpool FC cannot be held responsible for what happened that night at Heysel.
He also understands why Liverpool fans will want to celebrate victory in the Champions League final.
“(But) If there was divine sporting justice, it would be better if Real Madrid won the cup on Saturday to avoid this coincidence,” he added.
(Writing by Keith Weir; editing by Martyn Herman)