On 20 October 1982, the weather was snowy and extraordinarily cold for the middle of October. There were 82,000 match tickets available, but because of the freezing weather conditions only 16,500 tickets were sold.
The stadium management decided to open only two of the four stands for fans: the East Stand (“C”) and the West Stand (“A”), to have enough time to clean snow from the stands before the game. Each stand had seating for 23,000 spectators. Most of the fans, about 12,000, went to the East Stand ,which was closer to the Metro station.
The 1982–83 UEFA Cup match between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem was largely uneventful. Minutes before the end of the game, several hundred fans began to leave the stadium in an attempt to get to the Metro station ahead of the crowds.
There are two covered stairways in the stadium under each stand, leading down to the exits. All of the exits at both stands were open. However, most of the fans from the East Stand rushed to Stairway 1, closer to the Metro station.
According to the witnesses, one of the fans fell at the lower steps of Stairway 1.A couple of people also stopped, trying to help the fan in need, but the moving dense crowd on the stairs, limited by metal banisters, promptly crushed them down. People began to stumble over the bodies of those who were crushed in a domino effect.
A total of 66 people died in this stampede. All of the deceased victims died of compressive asphyxia, 61 people. The Luzhniki Stadium tragedy was the Soviet Union’s worst sporting disaster.