Unhappy with their football team’s defeat, fans tried to invade the turf. Given the reaction of the police, there was a huge scramble.
SOCCER – It is a tragedy that will unfortunately go down in football history. At least 174 people were killed in Indonesia this Saturday evening, October 1, in a gigantic stampede at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, east of the island of Sumatra. Tragedy struck when thousands of supporters took to the pitch to show their dissatisfaction after a defeat and were attacked by police.
In this country, where unfortunately brawls between football fans are frequent, supporters of the Arema FC team took to the field 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 event 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. According to an official report, around 180 people were also injured.
Should the police be involved?
Of the mass movement, survivors described panicked onlookers blocked by the crowd as police fired tear gas. 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.
“The police used tear gas and people immediately rushed out, crowding each other, and that caused a lot of casualties,” Doni, a 43-year-old viewer, told AFP, who declined to give his last name. “There was nothing, no riots. I don’t know what happened, they suddenly fired tear gas,” he said. “What shocked me was that they didn’t think about women and children? »
Following the tragedy, Indonesian President Joko Widodo this Sunday, October 2, ordered “a full assessment of football matches and security procedures” following this incident. He urged the National Football Association to suspend all games until “safety improvements” are made. And to add on TV: “I deeply regret this tragedy and hope that this football-related tragedy will be the last in our step. »
show of devastation
While the stadium had capacity for 42,000 and was full, according to authorities, about 3,000 of them stormed the field in anger after the game. A hospital director told local television that one of the victims was only five years old.
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 police reported 13 burned vehicles.
The Indonesian government has apologized for this incident. “We regrettably apologize for this incident (…) which ‘hurts’ our football at a time when fans can attend a game in a stadium,” declared the Indonesian sports minister after a long hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic youth Zainudin Amali in the Kompas Channel.
Mea culpa also on the part of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), which has suspended all games scheduled for this week. “We are sorry and we apologize to the families of the victims and all parties involved in this incident,” said PSSI President Mochamad Iriawan. The head of the Asian Football Association, meanwhile, expressed his regret at the loss of life. “I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news from Indonesia, a country that loves football,” Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement. Especially since Indonesia is supposed to host the U20 World Cup next year in several stadiums in the country that von Malang does not belong to.
Hillsborough, Port Said… tragic precedents
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where longstanding rivalries have resulted in deadly clashes. Some matches (the most important one is the Persija Jakarta-Persib Bandung derby) are so tense that players from top teams have to go there under heavy protection.
For this Saturday’s game, Persebaya Surabaya fans were not allowed to buy tickets for the game for fear of incident.
Similar mass movement-related tragedies have hit the football world several times in the past. In 1989, a massive stampede at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, UK killed 97 Liverpool fans. In 2012, the Port Said Stadium in Egypt experienced another tragedy that left 74 dead. Worse, in 1964 a crowd at Lima’s National Stadium during a qualifying match between Peru and Argentina killed 320 and injured more than a thousand.
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