Police Monday blamed unruly fans for a soccer stadium stampede in which 94 people were killed, and European tournament organizers said they will reconsider a decision to allow English clubs to compete in continental Europe.
Police have been criticized for opening a 16-foot gate to relieve pressure from fans pushing to get into a semifinal playoff match of the English Football Association between the Liverpool and Nottingham Forest teams.British soccer has been plagued by rioting and hooliganism in recent years, but police said there were no reports of intentional violence Saturday.
Police Federation spokesman Paul Middup struck back at criticism of police handling of the crowd, saying unruly fans, not police, were to blame for the disaster.
"How do you control a mass of bodies? What do you do with people who will run under the bellies of police horses and force barriers?
"If people cannot behave themselves and cannot be sensible and if you cannot have a football match without ruining the lives of others around, why should people have to put up with that?"
"I am proud of the job they did," Middup said of police. "Yet all my people can see from newspapers and on television is that it was their fault. That is just not so, and it is grossly unfair. They were faced with a situation for which no amount of training could prepare them."
Jacques Georges, president of the Union of European Football Associations, said Liverpool fans who were in a fury to get into Hillsborough stadium were to blame for the disaster. He said the association would reconsider a decision to allow English soccer teams to compete in European tournaments in 1990-91.
English clubs had been banned indefinitely from European tournaments because of rioting in May 1985 at the Heysel Stadium riot in Brussels, Belgium, when 39 fans were killed.