World's Most Horrific Sporting Disasters, Including Crashes, Falls, and Worse

This 09 February 2001 photo shows NASCAR legend Da
This 09 February 2001 photo shows NASCAR legend Da / BRIAN CLEARY/GettyImages

Thanks to the Danish national team captain, football fans can watch Christian Eriksen play in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. No one thought he would ever kick a football again when his heart gave out on the pitch; thanks to the captain's quick thinking, he alerted the medical team who came to treat him on the pitch.

While sports are widely known to brighten the faces of millions of fans worldwide, Eriksen's story proves that they can also cause untold pain and grief. We've dug into the dark days of sports and compiled 32 stories behind the most shocking and unpredictable tragedies.

A Horrible Way To Leave the World 

In October 1998, lightning struck during a football match, and Basanga, a Congolese soccer team, was accused of witchcraft. The accusations came after 11 of their opponents lost their lives in the incident, but all their players escaped unharmed. The referee had to stop the game because of Bena Tshadi's casualties and the 30 injured people who needed treatment.

In that part of the world, hiring a witch doctor to curse your opponents was not unusual, but this incident was appalling. Twenty-four years later, the claims haven't been proved or disproved because, at the time, the ongoing civil war in the province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo prevented any form of journalistic or investigative action. 

A Double Tragedy for Liverpool

The clamor for better stadium security intensified after two stadium disasters in the 1980s. The first tragic event was in 1985 at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, in a European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus. A stadium wall fell on and killed 39 spectators leaving hundreds of others injured.

Four years later, in 1989, a second tragedy happened at an F.A. Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, where 96 fans lost their lives from overcrowding, and over 759 were injured. At first, authorities blamed the Liverpool fans for the tragedy because of their behavior, but further investigations exonerated them, concluding that poor stadium repairs, crowd management, and stadium design were the main causes.

Tragedy on the Racing Track

In the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, racing drivers Ken Schrader and Dale Earnhardt were involved in a ghastly collision. This accident claimed the life of Earnhardt, who gave up the ghost before he reached the hospital. According to Schrader, he felt Earnhardt was already lifeless when he tried to help him by pulling the netting from his car window.

The collision forced both cars into the retaining wall at 159 miles per hour, and they darted back onto the middle of the circuit. The tragedy left Dale Earnhardt Junior, Earnhardt's son, in tears, and though he came second in the race, it was heartbreaking to accompany his dad to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.