Indonesia stadium tragedy: 130 killed in football match stampede


Chaos and violence erupted in an Indonesian league football match early Sunday morning, killing at least 131 people in one of the deadliest stadium disasters the world has ever seen, according to the governor of East Java province.

Supporters of Indonesia’s two biggest soccer teams Arema FC and rival Persebaya Surabaya clashed in the stands after home team Arema FC beat them 3-2 in a match in Malang, East Java, police said.

Supporters of the losing team then “invaded” the stadium and police fired tear gas, triggering a stampede that resulted in a choking incident, East Java police chief Nico Afinta said at a post-match news conference.

Two police officers were also among the dead, the police chief said, adding that the squeeze occurred as fans fled to the exit gate.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered the suspension of all leagues until the investigation is completed.

“I have specifically asked the police chief to investigate and find out about this case,” Jokowi said in a televised address. “Indonesia should uphold sportsmanship, humanity and brotherhood.”

“I regret this tragedy and hope it will be the last tragedy in Indonesian football. We cannot have (this) any more in the future.”

Video shot in the stadium late at night and shared on social media showed fans dressed in red and blue – the home team’s colours – storming the pitch and clashing with Indonesian security forces who appeared to be wearing riot gear.

Video footage broadcast by local news channels also showed images of body bags, Reuters reported.

Also saw smoke later, what appeared to be tear gas video, showing several people being carried into a building. Officials said many were admitted to nearby hospitals with “lack of oxygen and shortness of breath.”

supporters from losing teams

Located in East Java, Kanjuruhan Stadium is mainly used for football matches – its full capacity is estimated at 38,000 spectators.

But 42,000 tickets were issued for Saturday’s game, according to ministry officials.

“We had anticipated the (large) numbers and suggested that the game be moved to the afternoon, but the game was played in the evening,” Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD said in a post shared on his official social media account.

He added that the stadium had “exceeded its maximum capacity”.

“Our proposal was not met. I would also like to stress that the supporter in this area is Arema Football Club.”

Troubles have erupted in previous matches in Indonesia, with fierce rivalry between clubs sometimes leading to violence among supporters.

“All the sports clubs competing between cities (in Indonesia) are always fierce,” Indonesian football analyst Dex Glenniza told CNN, noting that supporters were “banned” from visiting each other’s stadiums.

“(This is) to avoid friction and conflict between supporters,” he said. “But there are still a lot of incidents between supporters, most of which are off the field.”

Fans poured into the stadium at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java province, on Saturday.

With Indonesia set to host next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup and bid to host the 2023 Asian Cup, the country is now under global scrutiny.

Observers note that the death toll from the Kanjuluhan Stadium disaster has surpassed other global football disasters, such as the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium tragedy in Sheffield, England, in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

There has also been growing criticism of the police’s handling of Saturday’s incident. In a statement released on Sunday, the watchdog group Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) called for accountability and the “removal” of Malang police chief Ferli Hidayat.

“This is the worst event in Indonesian football. The police chief should be ashamed and resign,” the IPW said.

“The death toll must be thoroughly investigated and President Joko Widodo must pay attention,” it added.

Amnesty International’s exiled Indonesian rights activist Veronica Koeman has condemned the police’s use of tear gas.

“This example of police abuse of tear gas is illegal and amounts to torture,” she said.

“Tear gas is illegal in war – why is it still legal to use it at home?”

Security officers detain a fan as supporters of two Indonesian football teams clash at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia.

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) suspended play next week and banned Arema FC from hosting matches for the rest of the season due to the deadly tragedy.

“PSSI regrets the actions of Aremania supporters at the Kanjuruhan Stadium,” the association’s president Mochamad Iriawan said in a statement issued on Sunday.

He added that the incident “stained the face of Indonesian football” and they supported an official investigation into the incident.

“We offer our apologies and apologies to the families and parties of the victims of the incident,” he said.

“To this end, PSSI immediately formed an investigative team and went to Malang immediately,” he added.

Relatives of one of the victims cried as they waited for news at Saif Anwar Hospital in Malang, East Java, on Sunday.

People looking for loved ones looked at photos provided by volunteers in Malang on Sunday.

Football’s international governing body, FIFA, offered its condolences to the families and friends of the victims, calling the incident “a dark day and an incomprehensible tragedy for all involved in football”.

“Together with FIFA and the global football community, all our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the injured and the people of the Republic of Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation, the Indonesian Football Association and the Indonesian Football Federation at this difficult time,” said the international Football Federation president Gianni Infantino wrote in a statement.

Meanwhile, host Arema Football Club apologised to everyone involved in the tragedy in a statement posted on its website.

“As chairman of Arema Football Club, I apologise to all Malang residents affected by this incident, and I am very concerned and strongly condemn the riot at the Kanjuluhan Stadium, which resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people,” the statement said. Club chairman Gilang Widya Pramana .

Persebaya also issued a statement expressing condolences, saying: “The extended family of Persebaya expresses its deepest condolences for the life lost by the Arema team after the Persebaya match. No life is worth football.”

“Dedicate Alpha Tiha to the victims, and may the families who remain be strong.”

Condolences are offered to the victims and their families, and the Premier League has also shared a message of condolences. “The thoughts of everyone in the Premier League are with those affected by the tragic events at Kanjuluhan Stadium last night.”

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