SYDNEY, Australia – Several people were killed Saturday night after a professional football match in Malang, Indonesia, led to riots at the stadium and tear gas fired by police into packed crowds, according to reports. union officials and local newsletters.
The match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya takes place at Kanjuruhan Stadium. After Arema lost 3-2 at home, dozens of fans flocked to the field.
The Times of Indonesia report that security officers tried to dissuade the crowd by hitting and kicking supporters. As scuffles broke out, authorities fired multiple volleys of tear gas onto the pitch and the stands. One video from the scene showed fans fleeing clouds of tear gas on the pitch. Local news outlets reported that thousands of fans were struggling to breathe and some eventually passed out.
Federation officials said the riot had left a number of people dead, but it was unclear how many. Initial reports from the stadium estimated that there had been dozens of deaths, but that could not be independently confirmed.
The federation was immediately suspended from playing 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 armies of fans to matches across Indonesia. Flares are often thrown on the field and riot police are a regular presence at many games.
Since the 1990s, dozens of fans was killed in football-related violence. After Saturday’s game, those numbers will rise again.