More than 150 people died on Saturday night after a professional football match in Malang, Indonesia, when fans rushed into the field, prompting police to fire tear gas into the packed crowd, according to local officials. causing many people to be trampled, according to local officials.
After the Arema football club lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, dozens of fans flocked to Kanjuruhan Stadium, Arema’s home ground.
Inspector General Nico Afinta, East Java Police Chief, said at a press conference the unrest prompted police to fire tear gas, which caused panic. There is confusion over the death toll – the government-backed National Human Rights Commission says 153 deaths, while football club Arema put the figure at 182.
Both figures will make Saturday’s match between the deadliest episode in football history. In 1964, at least 300 the dead in Peru after an unpopular decision at a football match caused a riot at the country’s national stadium.
In a televised address to the nation, President Joko Widodo said he had asked the national police chief to conduct a thorough investigation into what happened. He said he had also ordered the youth and sports minister, the national police chief and the president of the Indonesian football association to assess security at football matches.
“I am very sorry that this tragedy happened,” Mr. Joko said. “And I hope this is the last football tragedy in the country.”
Hundreds of people ran to an exit gate to try to avoid tear gas. Some were suffocated and others were trampled, killing 34 people almost instantly.
In a statement, Legal Aid Indonesia said “excessive use of force through the inappropriate use of tear gas and crowd control is the cause of a large number of deaths. “. It said the use of tear gas was banned by FIFA, football’s global governing body.
East Java Police Chief Afinta defended the use of tear gas, saying it was deployed “because there was anarchy.”
“They were about to attack the officers and damaged the cars,” he said.
Legal Aid Indonesia says the problem is made worse by overcapacity. Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said the local football committee printed 42,000 tickets, more than the stadium’s 38,000 capacity.
He said the victims died “from the stampede.” They were trampled and suffocated, he said. “None of the victims were beaten or mistreated by supporters,” he said.
The medical team conducted rescue efforts in the stadium and then evacuated others to several hospitals, Police Chief Afinta said at the press conference.
Football Federation suspends play for at least a week.
Akhmad Hadian Lukita, president of PT Liga Indonesia Baru, known as LIB, said: “We are concerned and deeply sorry about this incident. “We offer our condolences and hope this will be a valuable lesson for all of us.”
Football violence has long been a problem in Indonesia. Violent, often deadly confrontations between big teams are common. Some teams even have fan clubs with so-called commanders, who lead large groups of fans to matches across Indonesia. Flares are often thrown on the field, and riot police are a regular at many matches. Since the 1990s, dozens of fans was killed in football-related violence.
Sui-Lee Wee reported from Bangkok, and Muktita Suhartono from Jakarta. Dera Menra Sijabat contribution reports from Jakarta, and Damien Cave from Sydney, Australia.