FC Bayern mourn Man United air disaster victims
Tuesday marked the 60th anniversary of the air disaster in Munich involving the Manchester United team. On 6 February 1958 the plane carrying the team on the trip home from a European Cup match away to Red Star Belgrade crashed after a stopover at Munich-Riem Airport. 23 of the 44 passengers, including eight players, died in the crash. The Busby Babes, named after their coach Matt Busby, were considered the most talented team in the club's history at that time.
On Tuesday a commemoration ceremony in honour of the victims was held in Munich. FC Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president Uli Hoeneß and Munich mayor Dieter Reiter attended the event. Alan Dawson, Director of Football Operations, and club ambassador Denis Irwin represented the English record champions at the ceremony in the Bavarian capital.
"Manchester United became a reference point in my life as a footballer," said Rummenigge in his address to more than 1,000 people who gathered at Manchesterplatz in the Munich suburb of Trudering in the early afternoon to commemorate the victims. A memorial was erected in Trudering in 2004.
"Man United were and are more than wins, defeats, titles and lost trophies. Man United represent unconditional devotion, great joy and also deep mourning," added Rummenigge. "To this day, I am impressed at how the memory of those who were lost is passed on from one generation of Man United fans to the next. They provide a wonderful example of how to honour those who are no longer with us: by never forgetting them."
At FC Bayern too "we have not forgotten the events of 60 years ago. Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeneß and myself have always considered it our duty to preserve the memory of the victims of the flight 609 disaster," according to Rummenigge. "Dear Manchester United fans, I hope you will allow me to address the departed on this day when we come together in mourning, with the promise: We will never forget you – Wir werden Euch nie vergessen."
Hoeneß called the commemoration ceremony an "incredible, emotional event" and was visibly moved by the great show of sympathy. "Football is about rivalry, friendship and respect. Our presence is a sign of respect for this great club and its incredible fans," said Hoeneß. "We want to show that our thoughts are with the bereaved and the club. The relationship between the two clubs has always been one of great friendship, to this day."
On Tuesday the victims of the tragedy were also commemorated at the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt. A wreath was laid at the memorial to the tragedy at the FCB club museum. The memorial was unveiled in the presence of Man United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the survivors of the crash in 1958, in 2015. The inscription on the ribbon was "Always in our hearts."