At least 127 people died in Indonesia on Saturday night in a mass movement caused by fans entering a soccer field after a game, authorities reported on Sunday, in a country where rivalries between fans often lead to disaster.
Arema FC team fans took to the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in the eastern city of Malang after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya. It was the first time in more than twenty years that Arema FC lost to its great rival.
Police, who described the incident as a “riot,” tried to convince fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two officers were killed. Many victims were trampled to death.
“127 people died in the incident, including two police officers. 34 people died at the stadium and the rest died in hospital,” local police chief Nico Afinta said in a statement.
Several people were crushed while running towards one of the stadium’s exits and died of asphyxiation, Mr Afinta explained.
#Indonesia 🇮🇩⚽️🏟️ – Tense situation after Arema vs Persebaya game in front of Malang Kanjuruhan stadium. The Persebaya players and officials sitting on the bus were stoned by Arema supporters. #Indonesia pic.twitter.com/3EMcasNcvD
—ⓃⒺⓌⓈ—ⒾⓃⓉ·۰•●🌐 (@NewsInt_) October 1, 2022
Footage captured at the stadium shows a huge amount of tear gas and people clinging to the barriers, trying to escape. Others carried injured passers-by and made their way through the chaos.
A harrowing spectacle in front of the stadium on Sunday morning testified to the unrest of the day before: charred vehicles, including a police truck, were on the streets.
The Indonesian government apologized for this incident and promised to investigate the circumstances of this mass movement.
“We are sorry for this incident (…) It is a regrettable incident that + hurts + our football at a time when fans can attend a game in a stadium,” Indonesian Minister of Sport and Youth Zainudin Amali said in the Compass channel.
“We will thoroughly examine the organization of the game and the number of fans (in the stadium). Will we ban fans from attending games again? We will discuss it,” he added.
BREAKING: More than 100 people died after a riot broke out during a League 1 soccer match between Arema and Persebaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, Indonesia pic.twitter.com/YsDWQfbkRZ
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) October 1, 2022
Mea culpa, also on the part of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), which had suspended all games scheduled for this week, barred Arema FC from organizing home games for the remainder of the season and said it would send an investigative team to Malang to determine the cause of the crash.
“We are sorry and apologize to the families of the victims and everyone involved in this incident,” said PSSI President Mochamad Iriawan.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where longstanding rivalries have resulted in deadly clashes.
Some matches – the biggest being the Old Indonesia Derby between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung – are so tense that players from top teams have to be put under strict protection.