Sylvie Claire / October 2, 2022
It is one of the worst tragedies ever occurred in a stadium that mourns Indonesia this Sunday. According to local authorities, the death toll is 174.
The death toll from Saturday night‘s mobbing after a soccer match in Indonesia has risen from 129 to 174, local authorities said Sunday.
The mob occurred after thousands of fans invaded a soccer field and were sprayed with tear gas.
The tragedy, which took place in the city of Malang, east of the island of Java, has also injured some 180 people in this archipelago of Southeast Asia where rivalries between fans often turn to disaster.
Supporters of Arema FC team entered the field of Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang city after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya. It was the first time in more than 20 years that Arema FC lost to their arch-rivals.
Police, who described the incident as “rioting,” tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two police officers were killed. Many victims were fatally trampled.
Survivors described panicked spectators trapped by the crowd when police fired tear gas.
Footage captured inside the stadium shows a huge amount of tear gas and people clutching at barriers, trying to escape. Others were carrying injured spectators, making their way through the chaos.
“Police officers sprayed tear gas, and people immediately rushed out pushing each other and it caused a lot of casualties,” Doni, a 43-year-old spectator, who did not want to give his last name, told AFP.
There was nothing, no riots. I don’t know what happened, they suddenly sent tear gas,” he said. “What shocked me is that they did not think about women and children?
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered “a full assessment of the soccer matches and security procedures” after the incident.
He asked the National Football Association to suspend all matches until “security improvements” are made.
“I deeply regret this tragedy and hope that this football-related tragedy will be the last in our step,” he said in a televised speech.
A hospital director told a local television station that one of the victims was only five years old.
The stadium held 42,000 people and was full, according to authorities. Some 3,000 of them invaded the field in anger after the game.
A desolate sight in front of the stadium testified Sunday morning of the previous day’s unrest: burned vehicles, including a police truck, littered the streets. The police said that 13 vehicles were burned.
The Indonesian government apologized for the incident.
“We are sorry for this incident (…) It is an unfortunate incident that “hurts” our soccer at a time when fans can attend a match in a stadium” after a long interruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Indonesian Minister of Sports and Youth Zainudin Amali to the channel Kompas.
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) also apologized and suspended all matches scheduled for this week.
“We are sorry and apologize to the families of the victims and to all parties for this incident,” said PSSI president Mochamad Iriawan.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where long-standing rivalries have turned into deadly clashes.
Some matches — the most important being the derby between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung — are so tense that players from the top teams have to go there under heavy protection.
Fans of Persebaya Surabaya had not been allowed to buy tickets for the match for fear of incidents.
The head of the Asian Football Confederation, expressed his regret at the loss of life.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news from Indonesia, a country where soccer is loved,” said Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in a statement.
Indonesia is scheduled to host next year’s U-20 World Cup in several stadiums across the country, but Malang is not one of them.
In 1989, a crowd at Hillsborough Stadium in Britain killed 97 Liverpool fans and in 2012, the Port Said Stadium in Egypt suffered another tragedy with 74 deaths.
In 1964, 320 people died and more than a thousand were injured in a crowd movement at the National Stadium in Lima during a qualifying match between Peru and Argentina.