Top 12 Insane Sports Riots in History

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Everyone desires to live in a world where there are no sports riots. Unfortunately, they are the darkest days in the history of sports.

Sometimes, the riots break due to unforeseeable circumstances or events, resulting in the loss of many lives in these riots.

Sports Riots (Source:

Often these riots occur after the match is over. However, some occur while the game is going on.

Sometimes, angry fans or mobs can break out into a fight. But, a riot is far more dangerous both physically and emotionally.

Top 12 Insane Sports Riots in History

The references for these riots are taken from different websites such as

S.N. Event Date
12 Detroit Riots, Michigan, USA 1990
11 World Cup Qualifying, Harare, Zimbabwe 2000
10 Congo Football Riots 2008
9 ASV Riot, Kinshasa, Congo 2014
8 Riots in Cairo, Egypt 2015
7 Heysel Stadium Disaster, Belgium 1985
6 Ataturk Stadium Disaster, Turkey 1967
5 Oppenheimer Stadium Disaster 1991
4 Port Said Riots, Egypt 2012
3 Accra Stadium Riots, Ghana 2001
2 Estadio Nacional, Peru 1964
1 Nika Riots 532 A.D.

12. Detroit Riots, Michigan, USA

One of the gravest days in the history of the NBA occurred in 1990. On June 14, 1990, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers competed in the finals.

In the finals, the Pistons defeated the Portland Trail Blazers. After the game, riots broke out in the city of Detroit. 

Detroit riots (

The game was played in the state of Oregon. The riots began immediately after the game was ended.

The fans began looting and shooting at people. Several were injured. Later, reports suggested that at least 124 were injured.

Sadly, in this incident, at least eight people lost their lives. Even the children were hit and run over by the cars of drunk fans.

Later, the police arrested over 170 people.

11. World Cup Qualifying, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe was playing South Africa in a World Cup qualifying match. South Africa had the lead of 2-0.

No one expected this match to turn into one of the bloodiest sports riots. Unfortunately, the riots began during the game. 

Angry Zimbabwe fans started throwing bottles in the field. In reaction to this, the police officers threw tear gas. 

Chaos ensued after that. The spectators began to rush to get out of the stadium.

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Tragically, the police were ready even outside with tear gas. This caused even more chaos.

Soon, some spectators began throwing stones at the police car. It angered the police. After that, police were even more violent.

Several people were crushed in the chaos. In the end, at least 12 people died in the stampede.

10. Congo Football Riots

The 2008 sports riots in Congo were yet another dark day in football history. During this incident, two local clubs were playing against one another.

The Socozaki and Nyuki System were playing against one another. The reason for the riots is quite bizarre.

A rumor spread that Nyuki players were using witchcraft to win the games during the game. As a result, the players started to fight.

The police tried to stop the fight. But, as the police tried to rush to the field, the spectators threw stones at them.

After that, the police could not gain control of the situation. They tried various methods.

Finally, they had to use tear gas. After tear gas, the spectators began to flee, pushing each other.

In the end, 13 people died, while 36 were severely injured.

9. ASV Riot, Kinshasa, Congo 

It seems that sports riots occur regularly in Congo. For example, in 2014, riots occurred when ASV Club played against Tout Puissant Mazembe.

The Tout Puissant team was ahead with 1 goal. However, as the match reached the 87th minute, it was clear that ASV Club would not win.

As a result, the angry ASV Club fans began to throw stones at the ground. Again, the police fired tear gas.

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After that, the stampede began. The people tried to rush out of the stadium.

Some people died of suffocation, whereas others were crushed. In the end, a total of 18 people died.

8. Riots in Cairo, Egypt 

In the past decade, the civil unrest in Egypt has led to many riots. Riots started outside the football game.

The reason for the riots is unknown. However, during the riots, fights between police and fans also occurred.

It is unknown if the stampede began before or after the riots. However, the riots left several people injured.

At least 25 people were dead. Several are still at the hospital, undergoing treatment.

Police accuse the fans of trying to sneak into the stadium without tickets. On the other hand, the fans hold police as the reason behind the riots.

The fans said that the police had opened the narrow gate. As a result, the fans started pushing each other.

The stampede also increased the number of injured and deaths.

7. Heysel Stadium Disaster, Belgium 

On May 29, 1985, Juventus was playing against Liverpool in the Champions League. But, unfortunately, the match is remembered less for the game and more for the disaster which occurred.

The neutral zone separated the fans of Liverpool and Juventus. The Liverpool fans breached the neutral zone about an hour before the finals.

The Juventus fans ran towards the wall. But, unfortunately, fans were sitting near the wall.

Heysel Stadium disaster (Source:

The fans near the wall were crushed as others tried to escape by breaking the wall. As a result, the wall collapsed and caused further deaths and injuries.

The riots killed 39 people, and at least 600 were injured. Later, the police arrested 34 people.

After the incident, the English clubs were banned from the Champions League for five years. In addition, Liverpool was banned for six years.

The match was played despite the riots. Juventus won the match by 1-0.

6. Ataturk Stadium Disaster, Turkey 

The worst sports riot in the history of Turkey is the Ataturk Stadium disaster. The incident occurred when Kayserispor was playing against Sivasspor.

The violence occurred among the clubs of the two fans. At first, the Kayserispor fans provoked the fans of Sivasspor.

In the second half, the fans armed with bats and knives started to fight with each other. Some began pelting stones at one another.

Sadly, the fight did not stop within the stadium. The angry mob looted the shops and people of Kayseri.

The riots continued for days in Sivas. At least 43 people lose their lives in the riots. More than 300 people were left injured in the incident.

Since then, Turkey has increased stadium security. Following the incidents, a thorough check of spectators was started.

5. Oppenheimer Stadium Disaster 

It seems that the deadliest sports riots are primarily associated with football. But, interestingly, most of the sports riots also took place in Africa.

Oppenheimer Stadium disaster took place on January 13, 1991, in South Africa. Kaizer Chiefs was playing against Orlando Pirates.

The maximum occupancy of the stadium was 23,000. However, more than 30,000 fans were admitted to the stadium.

The chiefs scored a goal. This angered the fans of the Pirates. So, the Pirates fan pelted cans at the Chiefs fans.

Soon the Pirates fan attacked the Chiefs fans with knives. After that, panic started in the stadium.

People began to flee the stadium. Many were caught between the riot-control fences and the angry fans.

Due to the same, many of the fans were crushed to death. The reports showed 42 people died in the incident. Other several hundred were injured.

3. Accra Stadium Riots, Ghana 

Another worst day in the history of sports is the Accra Sports Stadium disaster. Accra Stadium disaster is also the worst sports-stadium disaster in the history of Africa.

Two local teams of Ghana Accra Hearts of Okan and Asante Kotoko were playing against each other. Their sports rivalry goes a long back.

The match between these two squads is usually tense. Therefore the police took strict precautions.

Accra Sports riots (Source:

Accra won the game by 2-1. As a result, the fans of Kotoko were disappointed. So they started throwing bottles and seats towards the pitch.

In response, the police fired tear gas. People ran towards the exit gates. Sadly, the gates were locked.

To make matters worse, the stadium had a bottleneck design. This meant that people were trapped in a narrow space.

Final reports showed that 116 people died from compressive asphyxia. Several others died from trauma.

2. Estadio Nacional, Peru 

It is regarded as the worst disaster in the history of soccer games. On May 24, 1964, Peru was playing against Argentina.

Peru had to win the game to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Argentina was leading with 1-0.

In the 84th minute, Peru scored a goal. However, the referee disqualified the goal. As a result, Peruvian fans got angry. 

The angry Peruvian fans marched to the ground. The police responded by firing tear gas.

About 53,000 spectators were present in the stadium. So, the chaos started. The stadium’s gates were made of corrugated steel. They were closed during the games.

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The gates were at the bottom of tunnels. People began to press towards the doors.

Several were trapped between the steel doors and other spectators. Finally, the doors burst open. Several were crushed due to this.

Most deaths were from internal hemorrhaging. The total death toll was 328. About 500 were injured.

1. Nika Riots

The worst sports riots in history took place in 532 AD. They occurred in Constantinople.

The riots destroyed nearly half of Constantinople’s buildings. It also led to the death of tens of thousands of people.

The riots began as a disagreement over chariot racing. Another reason behind the riots was politics.

Nika Sports Riots (Source: Youtube)

There were four major teams. Among them, the Blues and Greens were the most dominant. Emperor Justinian supported the blues.

Previously, some members of the Blues and Greens were arrested in charge of murder. They were to be hanged.

However, a blue and a green convict escaped and sought refuge in the church. The Blues and Greens convicts demanded freedom from the emperor Justinian.

The angry crowd came to the racing. Later, the crowd attacked the palace. The palace was on siege for five days.

Later, the emperor also killed those who supported the riots. It is said that almost 25,000 died in the riots.


These days are the darkest days in the history of sports. They serve as a hint that not all fans are civil.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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