Twenty-five years ago, on April 15, 1989, an FA Cup semi-final was set to be played out between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Instead, disaster struck.
96 Liverpool fans died and hundreds more were left injured injured after a crush on the terraces of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium. The tragedy occurred moments after kickoff, and the match was called off at 3:06 p.m.
In recognition of those that lost their lives at Hillsborough, the English FA has elected to kick off all matches at 3:07 p.m. BST, or 10:07 a.m. ET. The delay encompasses all games played at all eight levels of English soccer this weekend, and also applies to the FA Cup semi-finals between Arsenal and Wigan on Saturday, and Hull City and Sheffield United on Sunday.
A minute’s silence will be held at every match, six minutes after the start of the originally scheduled kick-off time. The silence corresponds to the minute at which the 1989 Hillsborough match was called off.
Further tributes will be payed at Anfield and at the FA Cup semi-finals. On Sunday, when Liverpool host Manchester City, scarves from all clubs in the top four divisions in English football will be used to create a “96” on the pitch at Anfield. Cards will be also given to fans to create a tribute spelling out “96 25 years”.
At each FA Cup semi-final, 96 seats have been left open at each stadium. Those seats will be draped with Liverpool scarves, in memory of those that lost their lives at Hillsborough. Officials and players in each game will also wear black armbands.
Twenty-five years after one of the biggest disasters in soccer’s history, a new inquest into the matter has begun. The examination began on March 31st and is expected to last at least several months, but those affected by the tragedy still hope to finally find justice for the 96.