The 10 Ugliest Sports Riots of All Time (With Video)
Good news, Lakers fans!
As bad as your celebration riots have been, they are just an afternoon walk in the park compared to how other countries show emotion.
According to an article published in the National Geographic* a few years ago, fan riots are nothing new and won't be stopping anytime soon.
Brian Handwerk states that "fan identification with sports teams is psychologically important for many people, particularly in our increasingly transient and insular society."
In other words, most fans, yours truly included, feel a sense of accomplishment when our team wins and feel betrayed when we think our team was treated unfairly.
So whether it's a way to relieve tension and celebrate or a way to get back at those who have wronged them, the most "passionate" among us usually decide to show the world how they are feeling.
The article goes on to say that belonging to a fan base stops some of us from actually going crazy. I guess.
All that being said, here is my attempt at listing the worst of them all...
10. Lakers Celebration Riot
Even though there was fortunately no body count after this riot, the reason it makes the list is because everyone knew it was coming and it still happened.
The quick details go like this:
About 30 minutes after game 7 of the Celtics- Lakers finale, unruly fans from nearby downtown LA bars combined with the more than 19,000 fans who were coming out of the Staples Center.
And even though a huge number of LAPD officers were waiting for them and tried to steer them away from the arena, the mob started going crazy and charged forward.
They ended up tearing down traffic signs, kicking over newspaper stands and igniting the papers.
Then came the riot gear cops swinging batons.
That's when the mob started tossing soda cans at the officers and stomping on cars and breaking windows, like a scene out of a Third World protest.
By the end, LAPD fired tear gas and pellets to disperse everyone.
And the final tally was somewhere around 10 people being rushed to hospitals and around 50 people being arrested.
9. Detroit World Series Riot 1984
In 1984, violence exploded outside of Tiger Stadium in Detroit after the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
Some say, this riot was the one that kicked off all the ones that we see these days as part of victory celebrations.
The accompanying photo is famous for showing how ridiculous celebration riots really are.
As you can see, in it the happy Tigers fan is holding a World Series pennant in front of an overturned, burning Detroit Police car.
8. Denver Super Bowl Riot
After the Broncos repeated as champs, the fans decided to take to the streets and tear the city apart.
The cops decided a little tear gas, riot gear, and batons might be the perfect remedy to cure what ailed the revelers.
They were right.
According to the Rocky Mountain News, the final numbers looked like this:
22 arrests, 60 injured people, 30 broken windows, two overturned cars and 15 damaged patrol cars.
7. Argentine Soccer Riot of 2007
In the summer of 2007, 41 people were injured, one person was killed, and 78 were arrested during an Argentinean soccer game between Nueva Chicago and Tigre.
The rival soccer fans swung steel pipes and tossed rocks at each other in support of their teams. As they continued brawling, the fight spilled out into the rush-hour freeway traffic outside the stadium.
The bad blood started when one of the teams was awarded a penalty during injury time.
So the opposing fans decided to rush the field before the penalty could be taken.
Even Raider fans wouldn't mess with these folks.
6. Bowe vs. Golota Riot
Everyone could see this one coming, but no one knew the fans would get involved.
Basically, Andrew Golota was a pretty good heavyweight who had a bad habit of hitting his opponents in the junk.
He had done it before and continued to do it during the fight.
So, even though he was actually winning the fight against former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe, Golota was disqualified for one too many low blows.
But victory wasn't enough for Bowe's cornerman, who decided to take matters into his own hands by banging Golota upside his head with a walkie-talkie.
Then, this happened...
5. The Pacers–Pistons Brawl
Some people call it the Ron Artest Fight.
Someone else came up with The Malice at the Palace.
Whatever you call it, it was ugly.
I remember watching it at a bar, and thinking it wasn't real.
But it was. And we all know the details by now.
Artest and Ben Wallace were about to get into it, but instead of fighting with him, Artest walked away and laid down one the scorer's table.
Some idiot in the stands threw a drink down and it landed on Artest, who went into the stands to confront the fool.
Lots of suspensions, bad rap songs, and trades later, Ron Artest is a World Champion.
Anything is possible.
Side note: Watch around the 2:30 mark when Artest punches Turtle from Entourage. (I know. I didn't come up with that. But it's still funny, right?)
4. AC Milan vs. Inter Milan 2005 Missiles and Flares
In 2005, the UEFA Champions League playoff game between AC Milan and Inter Milan was suspended after Inter fans shot missiles and flares onto the field at the San Siro stadium.
The AC Milan goalkeeper was hit by a flare.
You read correctly.
Fans came to the game packing missiles, and hit the goal keeper with a flare.
3. Red Sox World Series Riot 2004
One of the only bad memories for most Boston fans of the 2004 Red Sox World Series win, was the death of a young lady during the post game celebration and riot.
Red Sox fans rioted outside of Fenway Park even before the World Series began.
After dramatically coming from behind and beating the New York Yankees, fans took to the streets, trying to burn down Kenmore Square.
Police used "pepper guns" to control the mob.
Unfortunately, Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove was killed by a pepper filled paintball-like projectile that hit her in the eye.
2. The Heysel Stadium Disaster of 1985
During the1985 European Cup Final, Liverpool faced off against Juventus at Heysel Stadium in Belgium.
British soccer Hooligans tried to force their way into the stadium.
Juventus fans tried to flee, but were caught behind a concrete wall.
The fleeing fans pushed against the crumbling wall and it collapsed on the fans on the other side.
In total, 39 people died and 600 more were injured.
UEFA considered the tragedy it's "darkest hour" and banned England football clubs from European matches for several years after.
1. African Soccer Riots of Spring 2001
In May of 2001 a soccer match between two of Ghana's best teams led to a stampede at the packed stadium, killing over 120 people, making it Africa's worst soccer disaster ever.
What made it even more tragic was that it was the fourth one that year.
A few weeks before, in early April, 43 people were killed at a soccer stadium in South Africa.
Weeks later, eight people were killed during another stampede in the Republic of Congo.
And to wrap up the season, fights broke out in early May among fans at an Ivory Coast soccer match that led to one more person's demise and left 39 injured.
The following year, the Ghanaian government charged several of the police force for not being in more control of the situation.
Fortunately for the six officers, they were acquitted of all 127 counts of manslaughter due to lack of evidence.