JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Violence, tear gas and a fatal crush that erupted after a domestic league soccer match Saturday night marked yet another tragedy in Indonesian soccer. Here’s a look at how the mess happened and what’s being done to prevent future incidents:
How did the confusion arise?
Confusion erupted after Prasabaya Surabaya lost 3-2 to rivals Arima Malang in a Saturday night match in Malang, East Java. Police said there were about 42,000 spectators at the stadium, all of whom were Arima supporters, as organizers banned Parsabaya fans in an attempt to prevent a fight.
But a disappointing defeat by Arima – the first game at home to rivals Persibaya – prompted angry fans to storm the pitch after the game to demand answers. Fans threw bottles and other objects at players and football officials and violence spilled outside the stadium, where at least five police cars were overturned and set on fire and others were damaged. Riot police responded with tear gas, which is banned in soccer stadiums by FIFA. But it raised fears.
Hundreds of spectators rushed to the exits to avoid the tear gas, which resulted in 34 being instantly knocked out or suffocated, with many more dying from injuries.
How many people died?
In what appeared to be the sport’s worst disaster, police said at least 174 people died, including children and two police officers, many of whom were trampled.
More than 100 people were injured. The police have said that the death toll may increase and many people are in critical condition.
According to Save Our Soccer, an Indonesian soccer watchdog, at least 86 soccer fans have been killed since 1995, most of them in fighting.
Why does football create violence?
Soccer is the most popular sport in Indonesia and the domestic league is widely followed. Fans are strongly attached to their clubs, and such racism often ends in violence and extortion. But it usually happens outside the stadium.
The best known conflict is between Parseja Jakarta and Prasab Bandung. Supporters of the two clubs have clashed in several matches that have resulted in deaths. In 2018, Parsija Jakarta supporters were beaten by rivals Parsib Bandung.
Indonesian football is also facing problems at the international level. During the qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA World Cup, a clash broke out between supporters of Indonesia and Malaysia. In September 2019, Malaysian fans were threatened with missiles during a World Cup qualifier in Jakarta and Malaysia’s sports minister was ejected from the stadium after violence erupted. Two months later, fans threw flames and bottles at each other at another match in Kuala Lumpur.
Also in 2019, after the U-22’s loss to Vietnam in the final at the Southeast Asian Games, Indonesian fans sent insults, harassment and death threats to Vietnamese players and even their families on social media. .
In June, two Persib Bandung fans died while entering the stadium in Bandung to watch the 2022 President’s Cup. The angry supporters were angered after officials at the ground refused to allow them to enter the already packed stadium.
What is the government doing about it?
Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his deepest condolences and ordered a full investigation into the death. He also ordered the Premier League to be suspended until a safety reassessment is carried out and tighter security is put in place. Widodo said he hoped “this tragedy will be the last football tragedy in Indonesia.”
The Indonesian Football Association has also banned Arima from hosting football matches for the rest of the season. Amnesty International has called on Indonesia to investigate the use of tear gas at the stadium and ensure that those found guilty of violations are brought to justice.