Indonesia stadium soccer stampede claims 125



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People died in stadium in Indonesia Image: Rizky Wahyu Permana (merdeka.com)

A stampede at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Indonesia has killed 125 people and injured more than 320 after police used tear gas to quell a pitch invasion, authorities said on October 2nd, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

Violence broke out after the game ended on the evening of October 1st with host Arema F.C. of East Java’s Malang City losing to Persebaya of Surabaya 3-2.

‘Reuters’ stated that officers fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse agitated supporters of the losing home side who had invaded the pitch after the final whistle in Malang, East Java, on October 1st, the region’s police chief Nico Afinta told newsmen.

The Kanjuruhan Stadium is a multipurpose stadium in Malang Regency, East Java, Indonesia. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 42,449. It is the home ground of Arema, a football team in Liga 1. It is named after the Kingdom of Kanjuruhan, an 8th century Hindu kingdom in the present-day Malang area.

The Arema Football Club is an Indonesian professional football club based in Malang, East Java. The club competes in Liga 1, the top flight of Indonesian football. They are considered one of the best and most successful football clubs in the country, and don the nickname ‘Singo Edan’. The Kanjuruhan Stadium serves as their home facility.

Persebaya Surabaya or simply Persebaya is an Indonesian professional football club based in Surabaya, East Java. It currently plays in Liga 1, the top flight of Indonesian football. It is regarded as one of the most iconic and successful teams in the country, winning numerous Indonesian League titles and tournaments. The 45,000-capacity Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in East Java, Indonesia, serves as their residence.

Noted Nico, “It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.

‘Reuters’ further stated that world soccer’s governing body FIFA specifies in its safety regulations that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police.

The East Java Police did not respond to a request for comment on whether they were aware of the regulations against using gas in stadiums.

Lamented Muhammad Rian Dwicahyono, 22, crying as he nursed a broken arm at the local Kanjuruhan hospital, “Many lives have been wasted. Many of our friends lost their lives because of the officers who dehumanized us.”

The stadium disaster appeared to be the world’s worst in decades. Wiyanto Wijoyo, the head of Malang’s health agency, put the final death toll at 125, and injuries at 323.

Video footage from local news channels showed fans streaming onto the pitch after Arema F.C. lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, followed by scuffles, and what appeared to be clouds of tear gas and unconscious fans being carried out of the venue.

Many victims at the nearby Kanjuruhan hospital suffered from trauma, shortness of breath and a lack of oxygen due to the large number of people at the scene affected by the gas, said the hospital head Bobi Prabowo.

Prabowo informed that some victims had sustained brain injuries and that the fatalities included a five-year-old.

The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, said authorities must thoroughly evaluate security at matches, adding that he hoped this would be “the last soccer tragedy in the nation”.

Jokowi, as the President is known, ordered the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) to suspend all games in the top league BRI Liga 1 until an investigation had been completed.

South Jakarta, Indonesia-headquartered the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) is the governing body of football in Indonesia. It was founded on April 19th, 1930, 15 years before the Indonesian independence. The PSSI joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 1954 and FIFA in 1952.

Inside the stadium at night, a burned chair still lay unattended while slippers and shoes were strewn haphazardly. A damaged police car was also towed outside in a clean-up.

At a funeral of two brothers, aged 14 and 15, in Malang who had been attending a soccer match for the first time, their relative Endah Wahyuni said, “My family and I didn’t think it would turn out like this,” adding that they were “quiet and obedient”.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement that the football world was in “a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia” and the event was a “dark day for all involved”.

The FIFA has requested a report on the incident from the PSSI, which has sent a team to Malang to investigate, PSSI Secretary General Yunus Nusi told newsmen.

Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission also plans to investigate security at the grounds, including the use of tear gas, its Commissioner stated.

On October 2nd, mourners gathered outside the gates of the stadium to lay flowers for the victims. Later at night people burned candles in a vigil at a lion statue, the local club’s symbol.

Hundreds also attended a candle-lit vigil in the capital Jakarta on the night of October 2nd, carrying placards that read ‘Indonesian Soccer in Mourning’ and ‘Stop Police Brutality’.

Amnesty International Indonesia slammed the security measures, saying the “use of excessive force by the State … to contain or control such crowds cannot be justified at all”.

The country’s Chief Security Minister, Mahfud MD, said in an Instagram post that the stadium had been filled beyond its capacity. Some 42,000 tickets had been issued for a stadium designed to hold 38,000 people, he said.
 

Soccer Trouble

Financial aid would be given to the injured and the families of the victims, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa told reporters.

There have been outbreaks of trouble at matches in Indonesia before, with strong rivalries between clubs sometimes leading to violence among the supporters.

Crowds pack stadiums but the football scene in Indonesia, a country of 275 million people, has been blighted by hooliganism, heavy-handed policing and mismanagement.

Zainudin Amali, Indonesia’s Sports Minister, stated that the Ministry would re-evaluate safety at football matches, including considering not allowing spectators in the stadiums.

Indonesia is scheduled to host the FIFA under-20 World Cup in May and June next year. They are also one of three countries bidding to stage next year’s Asian Cup, the continent’s equivalent of the Euros, after China pulled out as hosts.

The head of the Asian Football Confederation, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, said in a statement that he was “deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news coming out of football-loving Indonesia”, expressing condolences for the victims, their families and friends.

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