In 2nd-worst football stadium disaster, 125 killed in Indonesia

MALANG (INDONESIA): At least 125 people were killed and more than 320 injured in a stampede at a soccer stadium in Indonesia on Saturday as police sought to quell the violence on the field with tear gas, turning it into one of the world’s worst stadium disasters. Fans of the losing home team flooded into the field after the final whistle and clashed with police, until tear gas caused a chaotic scramble for an exit.
Attention immediately focused on police use of tear gas; Witnesses said police beat them with sticks and shields before shooting directly into the crowd.
President of Indonesia Joko Widodo ordered an investigation into security procedures. Fifa president Gianni Infantino called the death “a dark day for all involved in football and an incomprehensible tragedy”. Although Fifa does not control domestic matches, it has advised against the use of tear gas at football stadiums.
Violence broke out after the match ended on Saturday night with the host Arema FC the East Java city of Malang lost Persebaya of Surabaya with the score 3-2. Thousands of Arema supporters, known as “Aremania”, responded by throwing bottles and other objects at football players and officials. Witnesses said fans flooded Kanjuruhan Stadium and demanded it Arema The board explained why, after 23 years unbeaten at home to Persebaya, this match ended in a loss. The stadium was packed with Arema fans as the organizers had apparently banned Persebaya fans in an attempt to avoid scuffles.
Violence spread outside the stadium, where at least five police cars overturned and caught fire. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including towards the stadium’s stands, scaring the crowd. “The stadium turned into a battlefield filled with smoke when the police fired tear gas,” said Rizkywho went to his cousin to watch the match.
“I felt hot and my eyes sting, I couldn’t see clearly while my head was dizzy and everything went dark… I passed out,” he said. When he woke up, he was taken to the emergency room. He said his cousin died of a head wound.
Another spectator, Ahmad Fatoni, said police had started hitting fans with sticks and shields, and they fought back. “The staff fired tear gas directly at the audience in the stands, forcing us to run towards the exit,” he said. “Many victims fell down with difficulty breathing and vision from tear gas and were trampled on.” He said he climbed to the roof of the stands and only came down when the situation calmed down.
National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the number, originally thought to be 174, was revised to 125 because some victims were counted twice. More than 100 people are being treated actively at eight hospitals; 11’s condition is critical.
East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta defended the use of tear gas, saying, “We took action to stop it before finally firing tear gas when (fans) started attacking the police, acting anarchy, and setting cars on fire” .
The Indonesian football association, known as PSSI, has indefinitely suspended the top soccer league Liga 1 due to the tragedy and banned Arema from hosting matches for the remainder of the season.
“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last football tragedy in this country, don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Widodo said in a post. televised speech. “We must continue to uphold the spirit of sport, humanity and brotherhood of the Indonesian people.” He has ordered the sports minister, national police chief and PSSI president to conduct a thorough review of the country’s football and its security process.
Indonesia will host the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11, with 24 teams participating. As the host, the country automatically qualifies to win the cup.
Ferli Hidayat, Malang local police chief, said about 42,000 spectators attended the match. Persebaya fans were barred from entering after a clash between supporters of two rival teams at East Java’s Blitar Stadium in February 2020. Clashes were reported outside the stadium during and after the East Java Governors Cup semi-final, which ended with Persebaya defeating Arema 4. 2.
Citing Fifa’s stadium safety guidelines against the use of “crowd control gases” by stadium management or the police, Amnesty International called on Indonesian authorities to launch an investigation. quickly, thoroughly and independently about the use of tear gas at Kanjuruhan Stadium. “Those found to be in violation will be tried in public courts and not only subject to internal or administrative sanctions,” it said. Usman Hamidexecutive director of Amnesty International Indonesia.


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