DEVELOP HISTORYDEVELOP HISTORY,
Police fire tear gas after fans in East Java stormed the pitch, sparking a stampede that killed more than 100 people.
At least 129 people were killed and dozens injured in a riot at a soccer match in East Java province, according to Indonesian police.
In a statement on Sunday, police said Arema FC supporters stormed the pitch of a stadium in the eastern city of Malang after their side lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday night.
Police said they tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas to control “riots” after two officers were killed. Hundreds of fans then ran to an exit gate to avoid the tear gas. Some suffocated in the chaos and many were trampled to death.
“Thirty-four people died in the stadium and the rest died in hospital,” East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta said.
The death toll is likely to rise, he said, as the condition of many of the approximately 180 injured deteriorated.
A hospital director told local television that one of the victims was five years old.
Video footage from local news channels showed fans pouring onto the pitch inside the stadium at Kanjurujan Stadium in Malang after Arema FC lost to Persebaya Surabaya. Scuffles can be seen, with what appeared to be tear gas in the air.
Images also showed people who appeared to have lost consciousness and were being swept away by fellow fans.
The stadium seats 42,000 people and authorities said it was sold out. Police said about 3,000 people stormed the pitch. Vehicles outside the stadium were also set on fire. Including a police car.
The Indonesian top league BRI Liga 1 suspended play for a week after the game on Saturday. Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya are bitter rivals and Saturday’s result marked the former’s first loss to the latter in more than two decades, AFP news agency said.
The Indonesian government has apologized for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the stampede.
“We apologize for this incident…this is a regrettable incident that ‘hurts’ our football at a time when fans can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesia’s Sport and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told Kompas broadcaster.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organization of the game and the attendance of the fans. Will we again ban fans from attending the games? We will discuss that.”
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Mahfud MD, later said the organizers had ignored the authorities’ recommendation to hold the game in the afternoon instead of in the evening. He also said the government recommended only 38,000 tickets be printed, but instead there was a sold-out crowd of 42,000.
“The government has improved the way football matches are conducted… and will continue to improve. But this sport, loved by the wider community, often provokes fans to suddenly express emotions,” he said in an Instagram post.
Fan violence is an ongoing problem in Indonesia, with intense rivalry between clubs sometimes leading to violence among fans.
But Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington, reporting from the Indonesian capital Jakarta, said Saturday’s tragedy was “historic”.
“We’ve never seen anything like it. This is a historic tragedy not only for soccer in Indonesia but also for international soccer. This is one of the greatest tragedies the sport has seen in terms of fan violence and fan deaths at a game,” she said.
Other stadium disasters include a 1964 scrum during an Olympic qualifier between Peru and Argentina at Lima’s National Stadium, which killed about 320 people, and the 2012 Port Said tragedy in Egypt, where 74 people died in clashes.
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) announced that it had opened an investigation into Saturday’s incident and banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the remainder of the season.
“We are sorry and our apologies to the families of the victims and everyone involved in the incident,” said PSSI Chairman Mochamad Iriawan.
The tragedy comes as Indonesia is set to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May and June next year. They are also one of three countries bidding to host next year’s Asian Cup, the continent’s equivalent of the European Championship after China withdrew as hosts.