A football match on Saturday, October 1 at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, ended up as a tragic event, and one of the world’s stadium tragedies.
The Republic of Indonesia has a record of fan violence but this event is one of the most tragic. At least 174 people lost their lives while about 180 are reportedly injured and receiving treatments in local hospitals in Indonesia.
The football match was between two longtime rivals, the Arema FC, and the Persebaya Surbaya in which Arema FC lost. To forestall a possible clash, the fans of Persebaya Surabaya were not allowed to purchase tickets for the Saturday game. Despite this move, 42000 tickets were sold for the match as against the slated 38,000.
Following the blow of the final whistle which marked the end of the game, fans numbering about 3,000 charged into the stadium’s pitch and according to Nico Afinta, a police chief in East Java, theee crowd began attacking officers and damaging properties which resulted in the death of two police officers.
The police in reaction to this fired teargas numbering about twenty at the fans and also at others. This caused a stampede as thousands surged towards the stadium’s exits for safety. Outside the pitch, the clash continued with vehicles torched including five police cars.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino described the incident as a shock and a dark day for the football world. He extended his condolence to families and friends of victims who lost their lives in the event and also to the many injured.
Following the incident, President Joko Widodo ordered the suspension of all matches in Indonesia’s top league until an investigation is carried out.
The action however violates Fifa’s rule which banned the use of firearms or ‘crowd control gas’ by the police in football matches.