On that day, SC Bastia faced Olympique de Marseille for a semifinal match in the French Cup. Marseille was arguably the best team in France at the time, and the board of Bastia wanted to take advantage of it by adding a large-capacity stand, to increase the number of seats by 50%. Local authorities approved the project without restrictions.
Before the game, the stand collapsed, killing 18 and leaving over 2,300 injured. Since then, Armand-Césari slowly improved, leaving only one of the four stands from 1992. This "under construction" stadium surprised the players from S.L. Benfica in 1997, as they believed this was the training pitch. Some major improvements finally started end of 1996, for a final capacity of 18,000.
Structural problems, such as instability, were noticeable in the hour before the match. The structure collapsed at 20:20, trapping supporters and media in the wreckage. All medical resources on the island were fully committed to dealing with the injured and many of the victims were eventually evacuated to the mainland; the airport was reported as resembling a field hospital.
An investigation was opened into the disaster. The investigation concluded there had been a number of violations of rules concerning the construction of the temporary terrace, and in the management of ticketing, and that the attitude of sporting and municipal executives had been problematic.
The report concluded "Le soir du 5 mai, il n'y a pas eu de fatalité" ("The evening of the 5th of May was avoidable"). After a trial a number of those found responsible served short sentences.