Twenty Years Ago The Bastia Stadium Disaster
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Twenty years ago: the Bastia stadium disaster: Today. Directions, Tickets, Address, Map, Pitch (2022)

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Twenty Years Ago The Bastia Stadium Disaster

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Nicole Sommer - Soccer expert Last updated: Thursday, 07.July 2022 — 3min read

Saturday lacked any matches in Ligue 1 due to commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Furiani stadium disaster which took the lives of 18 fans and injured hundreds more.

The lead up to the disaster starts on 22nd of April, 1992 when SC Bastia (football-mad town of Bastia on the island Corsica) beats Nancy (football-mad town of Nancy in France) on penalty kicks and progresses to the semi-finals of the Coupe de France. In this semi-final it will meet Olympique de Marseille, the absolute top team in France at that time, hosting such players as Jean-Pierre Papin, Chris Waddle, Abedi Pelé, and Didier Deschamps.

A semi-final match between Bastia and Marseille will take place at Stade Armand Cesari in Bastia. The stadium's capacity is usually more than sufficient for Ligue 2 matches of the club, but a semi-final match against Marseille will be of a different category.

The directors of the football club decided that, in order to increase the capacity of their North Stand for the upcoming quarter-final match against Nancy, they would need to demolish and replace it with a temporary structure that can seat 9,300 fans. This would more than double the original capacity of the stand.

On the evening of April 24th, the company of ex-club-president Vendasi was contracted to demolish the stand. In secret, the stand was demolished that night.

Representative Hurand only finds out the next day through the local press that a major development is planned for the town and it is too late to stop the developments.

Meanwhile, Bastia has contracted the firm Sud Tribune for the installation of the new stand. Another firm, Space Locations, had initially also been contracted by the club, but pulled out stating a lack of time.

On Tuesday, the 28th, work on the new stand starts. However, because a strike has broken out at the port of Marseille, which is preventing the delivery of necessary materials, the French Football Federation (FFF) refuses to postpone the match. Sud Tribune assures fans that they will be able to get materials on the island itself.

This safety report follows on Wednesday, however, as was pointed out after the disaster, it does not include confirmation of the official safety commission. Ticket sales can start though, but the Corsicans soon find themselves stunned by the prices that have been increased by 75% in comparison with the quarter-final.

A day later, the safety commission then finally provides its stamp of approval, and despite the initial delays works seem to progress steadily over the weekend. However, on Monday (one day before the match) bad news arrives as the fire department has encountered anomalies and considers the safety of the stand to be insufficient. Frantic last-minute works are executed until a few hours before kickoff.

The atmosphere inside the stadium is electric, with fans from both teams passionately cheering each other on. The match itself is a tightly contested matchup, with neither team able to gain an edge for too long. In the end, however, Bastia comes out on top, earning their first cup victory in over fifty years.

As the first whistle blows, the North Stand begins to sway and everyone is struggling to stay upright. Suddenly, a large hole opens up and the spectators fall through it, tumbling downwards and crashing into the ground below.

Some pre-match images in the next video. The stand in question is a long one with floodlights in the middle.

 

At 8:00 pm, when the players enter the pitch to warm up under a rapturous applause, some people have started to seriously frighten and some panic. Meanwhile, engineers are tightening bolts and repairing defects at the base of the stand.

Shortly before the match, the stands became increasingly unstable and the stadium speaker asked spectators not to move too much in order to avoid any further metal parts from coming off.

All the television cameras and journalists that were in the upper part of the stand are now buried under a mountain of debris.

Following the activation of the emergency response plan, a massive open-air hospital was established for the wounded. Within an hour, rescue helicopters arrived to transport injured residents to hospitals in Nice and Marseille.

?" While the death toll continues to rise, first reports of negligence and incompetence begin to trickle in. With the central question always lingering: "How could this semi-final have gone ahead without proper safety measures?"

An official report looking into the responsibility question soon concludes that several engineering errors, a lack of planning and oversight, the too-short time schedule, breaches of safety procedures, and general poor safety management and control (by the club, the Corsican football league and FFF) all played a role in the disaster.

This report found that Bastia directors had illegally received additional revenue from increased ticket prices, without reporting it to the FFF. This money was then likely funneled into their private pockets.

Findings from the study included that the safety committee never officially gave its approval after the fire department had given a negative advice, and that Bastia directors did not deem it necessary to ask for planning permission, as they are more powerful than the mayor of the town.

After a subsequent trial, eight of the responsible individuals were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to six years. President Filippi could not be convicted, as he was shot dead in his backyard two days before the trial began.

Last week, Bastia commemorated the 20th anniversary of the disaster with promotion to Ligue 1. This week, Bastia is playing a commemorative match against a youth team and will follow it up with a pre-season friendly against Liverpool.

For more photos, go to this slideshow. For more information, try this excellent resource (in French).

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R. Ruiz Diaz J. Montenegro
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H. Cespedes J. Velasco
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D. Gimenez S. Moruno
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G. Peredo L. Leal
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L. Maygua D. Torrico
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B. Aranibar M. Quiroga
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A. Cousillas
90'+4
90'+6
L. Hurtado
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    S. Angulo C. Franco
    D. Duran S. Navarro
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    F. Arismendi S. Garzon
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    R. Spenhay J. Lovera
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    S. Navarro
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    J. Lovera
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    S. Guzman
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    20
    -03
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