Indonesia’s JAKARTA (AP) — Another tragedy in Indonesian football occurred Saturday night after a local league soccer game when violence and a fatal stampede broke out.
Here’s a look at what caused the commotion and what is being done to stop such events in the future.
WHY DID THE CHAOS ARRIVE?
Chaos erupted after Persebaya Surabaya’s 3-2 victory against rival Arema Malang on Saturday night in the provincial capital of East Java. Police estimated that there were 42,000 attendees in the stadium, all of whom were Arema supporters due to the organizer’s decision to forbid Persebaya supporters to prevent fights.
However, Arema’s dismal defeat—the first game the team had dropped to Persebaya at home—led irate fans to flood the field following the game and demand an explanation. Fans attacked players and soccer officials with bottles and other items, while riots broke out outside the stadium, causing at least five police cars to tumble, catch fire, and suffer other damages. When riot police were confronted, they used tear gas, which FIFA forbids at soccer stadiums. But it caused anxiety.
In an attempt to escape the tear gas, hundreds of fans stampeded to an exit gate, killing 34 people almost instantaneously in the stampede and injuring many more.
HOW MANY DIES ARE?
Police said that at least 174 people perished in what seemed to be one of the biggest sporting mishaps, including two police officers, children, and pedestrians.
Over 100 persons suffered injuries. Numerous individuals are in serious condition, according to police, thus the death toll is expected to increase further.
Save Our Soccer, an Indonesian football monitoring group, said that since 1995, at least 86 Indonesian soccer supporters have lost their lives while cheering on their team. The majority of them perished as a result of fan brawls.
Rioting and a stampede The extensive list of occasions when soccer club supporters died will now include Saturday.
WHY DO VIOLENCE AND SOCCER COINCIDE?
The most watched domestic league in Indonesia is football, which is also the most popular sport there. Because of their intense loyalty to their teams, fans frequently turn violent and hooligan. However, brawls between fans typically take place outside the stadium.
The conflict between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung is the most well-known. In some instances, there have been fatal clashes between the two clubs’ fans. A Persija Jakarta supporter was killed by Persib Bandung rivals in 2018.
On the international scene, problems have also plagued Indonesian soccer. In 2019 during FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, fights broke out between supporters of Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s bitter rivals. At a World Cup qualifying match in Jakarta the same September, Malaysian supporters were intimidated and attacked with missiles. Malaysia’s visiting sports minister had to leave the stadium as a result of the unrest. Two months later, during a different match in Kuala Lumpur, supporters threw flares and bottles at one another.
Additionally in 2019, Indonesian supporters used social media to threaten the lives of Vietnamese athletes and even their families after their country lost to Vietnam in the Southeast Asian Games U-22 final.
While squeezing inside the stadium in Bandung to see the 2022 President’s Cup, two Persib Bandung supporters perished in June. The referee’s officers prohibited the irate fans from entering the already packed stadium, which led to their hostile behaviour.
HOW IS THE GOVERNMENT ADDRESSING IT?
Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, has apologised profusely and asked for a thorough probe into the incident. In addition, he mandated the suspension of the elite soccer league pending the completion of a review of match safety and the implementation of stronger security. Widodo expressed his wish that “this tragedy would be the last football disaster in Indonesia.”
Additionally, Arema has been prohibited from hosting soccer games for the balance of the season by the Indonesian soccer association. Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, requested Indonesia to look into the stadium’s use of tear gas and make sure that anybody found to have violated the law be prosecuted in public.
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