What was behind the deadly rush at an Indonesian soccer game?

Violence and a deadly stampede that broke out after a domestic league soccer game on Saturday night marked another tragedy in Indonesian soccer. Here’s a look at how the chaos came about and what’s being done to prevent future incidents.

– How did the chaos come about?

Chaos erupted after Persebaya Surabaya defeated rivals Arema Malang 3-2 in the city of Malang in East Java on Saturday night.

Police said there were about 42,000 spectators in the stadium, all of whom were Arema supporters, because organizers had banned Persebaya fans to avoid brawls.

But a disappointing Arema defeat – their first game lost to Persebaya at their home ground – prompted angry spectators to flock to the field after the game demanding answers.

Fans threw bottles and other objects at players and officials, and riots spread outside the stadium, with at least five police cars being overturned and set on fire and others damaged.

Riot police responded with tear gas, which is banned by Fifa in football stadiums. But it caused panic.

Hundreds of spectators rushed to an exit gate to avoid the tear gas, leading to a stampede in which 34 people were trampled to death or suffocated almost instantly, followed by many more deaths from injuries.

– How many people died?

At least 174 people died in one of the worst sporting disasters, police said, including children and two police officers, most of whom were trampled to death.

More than 100 others were injured.

Police said the death toll is likely to rise as several people are in critical condition.

According to data from Indonesian football monitoring organization Save Our Soccer, at least 86 Indonesian fans have died in connection with supporting their club during a match since 1995, most of them due to fights between fans.

Saturday’s riots and stampede add to the long list of events that have seen fans die in support of their club.

– Why does football generate violence?

Soccer is the most popular sport in Indonesia and the domestic league is widespread.

Supporters are deeply attached to their clubs and such fanaticism often ends in violence and hooliganism. But riots between fans usually take place outside the stadium.

The most famous feud is that between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung. Supporters of the two clubs have clashed in several matches resulting in fatalities. In 2018, a Persija Jakarta supporter was beaten to death by Persib Bandung rivals.

Indonesian football is also struggling at international level.

Clashes erupted in 2019 between supporters of arch-rivals Indonesia and Malaysia during qualifiers for that year’s FIFA World Cup.

In September of the same year, Malaysian fans were threatened and thrown at projectiles at a World Cup qualifier in Jakarta, and Malaysia’s visiting sports minister had to be evacuated from the stadium after violence broke out.

Two months later, in another game in Kuala Lumpur, fans threw flares and bottles at each other.

Also in 2019, after losing to Vietnam in the final of the U-22 match at the Southeast Asia Games, Indonesian fans took to social media to insult, harass and send death threats to Vietnamese players and even their families.

In June, two Persib Bandung fans died while jostling to enter the Bandung stadium to watch the 2022 President’s Cup. The angry fans turned aggressive as the officials on the pitch refused them entry to the already full stadium.

– What is the Indonesian government doing about it?

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has expressed his deepest regrets and ordered a thorough investigation into the case.

He has also ordered the Premier Football League suspended pending a re-assessment of game safety and tighter security measures in place.

Mr Widodo said he hoped “this tragedy will be the last tragedy of football in Indonesia”.

The Indonesian Football Federation has also banned Arema from hosting games for the remainder of the season.

Human rights group Amnesty International called on Indonesia to investigate the use of tear gas in the stadium and to ensure those found to be in violation are brought to justice.

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https://www.newschainonline.com/news/world-news/what-was-behind-the-deadly-indonesian-football-match-stampede-295779 What was behind the deadly rush at an Indonesian soccer game?

Mike Fahey

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