Sunday, September 11, 2016

Moscow's secret tragedy-hundreds of fans crushed to death-مأساة موسكو المجهولة..أكبر الكوارث الكروية


The Luzhniki Disaster: Football’s Chernobyl

أكبر مأساة شهدتها كرة القدم هو ما تمر عليه 33 سنة هذا العام، ففيها سقط 340 قتيلاً وجرح أكثر من 1000 بأقل من ساعة، ومن دون أن يدري بها حتى اللاعبون أنفسهم، ولا غيرهم أيضاً، سوى عدد قليل من المسؤولين طوال 7 سنوات.

When more than 40,000 English fans converge on Moscow's Olympic Stadium for the Champions League final on 21 May, they might spare a thought for the stadium's history. The original sports club beside the Moscow River was the British River Yacht Club. But those toffs had their club commandeered in 1917 by red 'ruffians' who turned it into the Red Stadium and laid out a pitch for the workers' game, football.


It was here in 1920 that the first post-revolutionary international match took place between a Moscow side and an International XI captained by then Scottish Temperance representative and future communist Willie Gallagher. The goalkeeper was the American John Reed, whose story was told in Warren Beatty's 1981 film Reds, and the score was an uncomradely 16-0 to the Russians.


أبقوها طيّ الكتمان ومن أسرار الدولة حين كان الاتحاد السوفياتي يخفي مآسيه وأخطاءه وراء ستار حديدي من التعتيم، وقلة من قادته كانت تعلم بما يجري فيه، حتى فكّك نفسه في 1989 وتقلص إلى روسيا متمتعة منذ ذلك العام بقدر من الحريات.

Thirty-six years later came the Lenin Stadium, centrepiece of the 160-hectare Luzhniki sports complex. This huge, 104,000-seat arena, which was to host the 1980 Olympic Games, was also home to Moscow's favourite football team, Spartak. And thereby hangs a tragic tale that few fans outside Russia know about.

On the evening of 20 October 1982 Spartak were playing Dutch club Haarlem for a place in the last 16 of the Uefa Cup. They would win the match on the way to a 5-1 aggregate victory, but it was also the night on which the greatest disaster in the history of Russian football took place. Officially, 66 fans lost their lives, crushed to death, but several subsequent investigations and eyewitnesses put the death toll closer to 350. That makes it the worst disaster in the history of world football, worse even than the 318 people who were killed in rioting at Peru's National Stadium in Lima in 1964 and the tragedies that have scarred football in England at Bradford and Hillsborough.


بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي راح الصحافيون الروس ينبشون في أرشيفاته السرية، وأحدهم من صحيفة "سوفيتسكي سبورت" عثر فيها على تفاصيل ما اتضح أنه أكبر مجزرة بتاريخ كرة القدم منذ تم تنظيم اللعبة في إنجلترا قبل 210 أعوام، وهي كارثة تفوقت على واحدة سبقتها في 1964 بليما، عاصمة البيرو، وقضى فيها 318 قتيلا ومعهم أكثر من 700 جريح ومشوه.

The Russian winter set in early in 1982, making the stone steps of the East Sector of the Lenin Stadium extremely icy. Since no more than 15,000 Spartak fans and a hundred or so hardy Dutch spectators had come to the match, the stadium authorities crammed them into a single section of the ground, leaving terraces of the remaining three-quarters of the stadium empty and pristinely snowy-white. It was to prove a fateful decision.


I was visiting my students in Moscow and went along to cheer on the team I had played for (twice) and had supported for 20 years. I sat with journalists, just as I had two years previously as British Olympic attaché at the Moscow Games. The contrast between the hot, humid August of 1980 and the freezing October of 1982 could not have been greater. I shivered to the end, only warmed by Edgar Gess putting our 'Reds' 1-0 in the lead.

كتب محرر جريدة "سوفيتسكي سبورت" في عدد 8 يوليو 1989 فقال إن ليلة 20 أكتوبر1982 كانت جليدية في موسكو بثلوج لم تكن تتوقف، والبرد فيها كان لا يطاق، لذلك لم يحضر إلى "ستاد لينين" الرئيسي (معروف حاليا باسم "لوجنيكي" في موسكو) سوى 10 آلاف فقط لمشاهدة مباراة بين فريقي "سبارتاك" الروسي و"هاآرلم" الهولندي، وكانا في المرحلة الثانية من كأس الاتحاد الأوروبي بكرة القدم.

Just before the final whistle, several hundred fans had sensibly decided to leave and take an early underground train home from the Lenin Hills station. But Spartak scored a second goal in injury time, through Sergei Shvetsov. 'I wish I hadn't scored,' he would say later.


Many of the departing fans descending the icy steps of the gangway and hurrying inside the dark tunnel did what many others would have done. Hearing the roar that greeted the second goal, they rushed back to join in the celebrations. As they did so, they ran into a wall of Spartak fans on their way out.

ولأن دقائق قليلة بقيت من نهاية المباراة التي كان الفريق السوفياتي فائزا فيها بهدف لقاء لا شيء، فقد بدأ الجمهور بمغادرة المدرجات وبالخروج من باب واحد تم فتحه لدواع أمنية من أصل 4 أبواب في الملعب، وفجأة سمع الخارجون بهتافات ترامت من المدرجات ودلت بأن الهولندي سجل هدف التعادل في اللحظات الأخيرة، فعاد الجميع تقريبا لمتابعة وقت المباراة الضائع.

Some witnesses say the militia would not let the returning spectators back into the stadium, so they were stuck in the tunnel, unable to move back or forward. Panic ensued. Because the stadium authorities had closed other tunnel exits, hundreds were caught on icy steps, stumbling and slipping in the darkness. It was horrific - they were trampled to death.

وفي الطريق تداخل العائدون بمن كانوا في طريقهم أيضا للخروج، وكانوا بعشرات الموجات البشرية، وبدأ تدافع فريد من نوعه منذ لحظاته الأولى، إلى درجة أن أحدا لم يكن يعرف اتجاهه الصحيح للخروج أو للعودة إلى المدرجات، أو حتى للتملص مما كان فيه.

Away from the darkened terraces, few could see what was going on. The foreigners were quickly ushered away from the stadium through swiftly opened side exits. Yes, I heard muffled screams, saw panic-stricken Spartak fans slipping and sliding and falling on the gangways; and saw and heard fleets of ambulances converging on the Eastern Sector of the ground. But nobody seemed to know what was happening or how serious the situation was. Rumours abounded, but then they always did in Moscow.

One 16-year-old who lived to tell the tale was future tennis star Andrei Chesnokov. He provides an eyewitness account of the disaster: 'On the slippery steps people were falling over, knocking others to the ground like dominoes. To save myself I vaulted over a barrier, stepping through row upon row of bodies. Some put out their hands, crying, "Help me! Save me!" But they were stuck under piles of corpses.


ثم تطورت الأمور إلى الأسوأ، وراح العشرات يدوسون على من وقع أرضا من حيث لا يدرون، وبعضهم راح يشد شعر الآخر من شدة الغضب أو الخوف أو يجذب أحدهم ذراع سواه، وهناك من مات اختناقا من شدة الضغط عليه "وبسرعة حولت موجات التدافع الهستيري الملعب إلى مقبرة حقيقية"، وفق تعبيره.

'I managed to pull out a young lad and carry him to an ambulance medic. But he was dead. I saw at least a hundred bodies laid out in rows on the running track at the bottom of the gangway.'

Another young boy, Alexander Prosvetov, now correspondent of Sport-Express, was there to support Spartak. He recalls: 'In the darkness, on the icy steps, the crash barriers buckled as militiamen stood by, not knowing what to do, watching as scores of fans were being trampled and crushed to death. I was lucky, being a long way from the gangway. But I knew something terrible had happened.'

كما سقط آخرون قتلى بالعشرات من التدافع على المدرجات "وعند انهيار بعض الحواجز الحامية للجماهير بفعل الفوضى العنيفة، وقام الحرس بإخراج أكبر عدد ممكن من المشجعين الهولنديين"، وفق تعبير المحرر الذي نقل عن شهود عيان في ذلك الوقت رؤيتهم لبعض الجثث، "وقد اقتلع نصف يد من بعضها من قوة الشد والتجاذب بين المتدافعين".

The next day Moscow's evening paper Vechernaya Moskva contained a short cryptic note following its match report: 'An incident occurred yesterday in Luzhniki. After the football match, some spectators were injured.' No more. Not that day, not the next, nor the next week, next month, next year.

Under an ailing President Leonid Brezhnev - he was to die 21 days later - the communist leadership dithered and could not bring itself to admit to bad news. So, like the victims, the news was smothered.

المأساة تنطبع في ذاكرة شاهد عيان شهير وأحد الشهود على ما حدث كان لاعب التنس الروسي الشهير، أندريه شيزنوكوف، بطل دورة مونتي كارلو في 1990 ودورة كندا الافتتاحية للأساتذة بعدها بعام، والذي كان من مشجعي فريق "سبارتاك" وحضر المباراة مع أحد أقربائه لأن عمره كان 16 سنة ذلك العام والمباريات الليلية ممنوعة على من لا يكون برفقة بالغين من القاصرين، فرأى بعينيه ما حدث "وانطبعت المأساة في ذاكرتي وستظل فيها ما حييت، فقد رأيت بنفسي أكثر من 100 قتيل" كما قال.

According to the testimony of some of the victims' relatives, the bodies were removed as quickly as possible and the families given no more than 40 minutes to pay their last respects before the dead were buried in a mass funeral. Some relatives claimed that the police had warned them not to speak of the tragedy - especially to foreigners - on pain of imprisonment.

No more Spartak matches were scheduled for late October to stop families laying flowers or otherwise marking their loss. Four months later, on 8 February 1983, a trial took place to apportion blame or, rather, to find a scapegoat. The unfortunate accused was the stadium chief, Panchikhin, who had only been in the job just two-and-a-half months. He was given 18 months corrective labour. Despite testimony of eyewitnesses about fatal mistakes made by the militia, no investigation was made of their activities. The trial was not reported in the press for several years.

وأطل اليوم التالي بصدور صحيفة "فيشيرنيايا موسكفا" الرسمية التي نشرت خبرا صغيرا عما حدث ووصفته بأنه "تدافع بين مشجعي المباراة حيث جرح عدد من الأشخاص". ثم لم يعد أحد في الاتحاد السوفياتي كله يذكر شيئا، لا بالكتابة ولا على الشفاه.

Not until 1989 did the truth - or smatterings of the truth - come out. Not all the pieces were easy to fit together. This was towards the end of Mikhail Gorbachev's period of glasnost. Already the regime had made a fatal mistake in trying to conceal from the public, and the world, the nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl on 24 April 1986. By 1989, communism was crumbling in eastern and central Europe, and the Baltic states were struggling for their independence from the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev was rapidly losing control and unable to stop all Soviet dirty linen from being washed in public, even if he had wanted to. That was the background to the first public revelations, seven years late, about the 1982 stadium disaster.


والذي اتضح فيما بعد أن حرس الملعب والمباراة أخرجوا لاعبي الفريقين عند أول مظاهر التدافع والتضارب، وان اللاعبين ظنوا أن ما حدث كان عاديا ولم يتسبب سوى بجروح طفيفة أصابت البعض، خصوصا أن السلطات منعت اقامة أي مباراة في الملعب خلال شهر اكتوبر من كل عام "كي لا يكون ذوي القتلى بين المتفرجين" وبهذه الطريقة لا يتعرف أي منهم الى الآخر ويكتشف أن قتلى آخرين سقطوا تلك الليلة أيضا.

By a sad irony, this was the year when nearly a hundred Liverpool fans were crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough before an FA Cup semi-final. Football fans around the world extended their sympathy to the victims' families and Liverpool Football Club. The Spartak victims, who also died supporting the club they loved, were denied those international condolences because of their government's phobia about 'bad news'.


In 1992, when communism had fallen in the Soviet Union and it had splintered into 15 independent nations, Spartak fans clubbed together to pay for a modest monument that was erected outside the tunnel in which so many had died. Football fans visiting Moscow, on learning of the story, often left red carnations at the foot of the obelisk. It certainly attracts far more floral tributes than the giant statue to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, founder of the Soviet state, which welcomes spectators to the once-Lenin, now Olympic, Stadium.

The former Russia captain and current Fulham player Alexei Smertin recalls that when his then team Bordeaux played Spartak the day before the 17th anniversary of the tragedy, both Bordeaux and Spartak fans together laid a carpet of flowers around the memorial in memory of the dead.

Finally, last year, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster - known today simply as '20 October' - a memorial match was played in the Olympic Stadium between former players of Spartak Moscow and of HFC Haarlem. The game was a prelude to the vital league tie between Spartak and FC Moscow. Haarlem handed over £3,500 to the victims' families, who were also given a percentage of gate receipts from both games.

وفي 20 أكتوبر 2007 أقام الفريقان، سبارتاك وهاأرلم، الذكرى 25 لتلك الكارثة، ولعبوا مباراة على الملعب نفسه، وانتهت بالتعادل هدفين لكل فريق، وكانت عائداتها بالملايين وذهبت لذوي الضحايا المحفورة أسماؤهم على نصب أقاموه عند مدخل الملعب، ومعظم اللاعبين استغربوا كيف مضت بهم الحياة 7 أعوام من دون أن يدروا بأنهم كانوا أبطال أكبر كارثة عرفتها ملاعب كرة القدم.


The Haarlem captain of the 1982 match, Martin Haar, confessed to some guilt among Dutch footballers and fans that, unlike many Spartak followers, they had known nothing of what had happened after the match. He was not alone. The Spartak player Edgar Gess said: 'We knew nothing about the victims. We were sitting in the dressing room afterwards and hadn't the faintest idea about the catastrophe unfolding around us. We later heard that the Voice of America radio station had broken the news that evening. But it was only next morning when Spartak boss Nikolai Starostin told us the news that we were aware of the disaster.'

If you are going to Moscow for the Champions League final, spare a thought for the past as you look round the Olympic Stadium. And if you have a rouble to spend, buy a bunch of red flowers to lay at the monument to fans who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.