October 2, 2022
Killer violence after football match © APA/AFP/PUTRI
The death toll in a stampede after a football match in the Indonesian province of East Java has been reduced to 125 by authorities. Initially, 174 dead were mentioned. However, the victims were counted multiple times, said the region’s deputy governor, Emir Dardak, after comparing data from 10 hospitals.
Meanwhile, authorities put the number of injured at 323 on Sunday. Most of them would have been invaded or trampled on in the stadium. Police chief Nico Afinta said Arema FC fans stormed the pitch on Saturday night outraged by their team’s defeat. Security forces used tear gas to control the situation. This led to a mass panic in which several people who pushed for the exit were suffocated.
The accident is the worst in world football in more than half a century. In 1964, 328 people died in a stampede during a match between Peru and Argentina.
In the first division match, Arema FC lost the match against Persebaya Surabaya by 2:3. After the final whistle, the situation at the stadium in East Java became “anarchic”, police chief Afinta explained. Fans attacked authorities and damaged cars. There was then a crowd as fans fled for an exit.
Video recordings from local TV stations show how many people run onto the field and punches ensue. There’s fog in the air that looks like tear gas. Larger police vehicles with broken windows lie on their sides at the edge of the field. Smoke is rising from one of the vehicles. The footage also shows people who have apparently lost consciousness and are being carried away by helpers.
The head of a local hospital told Metro TV that some of the victims suffered brain injuries. A five-year-old child was among the dead. Officials initially spoke of 127 deaths, but the number continued to rise.
Indonesian Security Minister Mahfud MD wrote on Telegram that the stadium was filled to capacity. 42,000 tickets were sold, but the stadium was only approved for 38,000 visitors. East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said the injured and the victims’ families can expect financial assistance.
There have been repeated riots and violence between fans of various clubs at games in Indonesia in the past. Sports Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster KompasTV after the accident that he would re-evaluate the safety of football matches and also consider not allowing spectators in stadiums for the time being. President Joko Widodo said authorities should thoroughly review security at the games. He hopes this was “the last football tragedy in this country”. Wikodo ordered the Indonesian Football Association to suspend all top division matches pending investigation.
Amnesty International has criticized Indonesia for the excessive use of force by the state. This is in no way justified to contain such accumulations.
The world football association Fifa requested a report on the accident from the Indonesian football association. FIFA rules stipulate that stewards and police in stadiums may not carry or use firearms or tear gas. East Java Police did not initially respond to a request to know if they were aware of such regulations.
The football clubs Arema and Persebaya expressed their condolences to the victims and their families. “Arema FC extends its deepest condolences for the disaster in Kanjuruhan. The management of Arema FC is also responsible for dealing with casualties, both dead and injured,” said club boss Abdul Haris. The club will create a crisis center and an information center for victims. “To the families of the victims, the management of Arema FC sincerely apologizes and is ready to compensate. The administration is ready to accept proposals on how to deal with the disaster so that many are saved”, said Haris.
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) has suspended play in the top flight for a week. Arema were banned from playing at home for the remainder of the season. In addition, the association set up an investigation team that was supposed to start work on Sunday. “PSSI regrets the actions of Aremania fans at Kanjuruhan Stadium. We regret and apologize to the families of the victims and everyone involved in the incident,” said Mochamad Iriawan, president of the Association. The police will be assisted in the investigation.
Indonesia is considered a football-loving country. While there is a lack of international success, there is always riots and violence surrounding the games. In 2018, a supporter was killed by a crowd of supporters from a rival club. Indonesia will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup from 20 May to 11 June 2023, with 24 teams participating. As a host, the country automatically qualifies for the cup. The country has also applied to host the 2023 Asian Cup, the equivalent of the European Football Championship.
Pope Francis was affected by the catastrophe. “I also pray for those who lost their lives and were injured in the clashes after a football match in Malang, Indonesia,” the head of the Catholic Church said on Sunday, after praying the Angelus to believers in St. .