Indonesia soccer game riot, melee football league match stampede leaves more than 120 dead

Indonesia soccer game riot, melee football league match stampede leaves more than 120 dead

On Saturday, police officers in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, used tear gas during a soccer game at Kanjuruhan Stadium.

After more than 100 people die at an Indonesian soccer game, fans pay attention to the police.

Witnesses said that police fired tear gas into the stands without aiming. This caused a stampede that killed at least 125 people.

Fans of Arema F.C., the most popular soccer team in the Indonesian city of Malang, were supposed to have a good time.

Tens of thousands of young people called “Aremania” filled the Kanjuruhan Stadium on Saturday night, hoping to see their team beat Persebaya Surabaya, a club it had lost to for 23 years in a row.

But Arema lost by a score of 3-2, and angry fans started running onto the field. What happened next was one of the deadliest sports stadium disasters in history. Police officers started shooting tear gas canisters into the crowd and beating fans with batons, witnesses said. In a rush to leave the stadium, fans piled up against narrow exits and crushed each other. As of Sunday night, at least 125 people were known to be dead.

“I’m still wondering, ‘Did all this really happen?'” said Felix Mustikasakti Afoan Tumbaz, 23, whose right leg was hurt when a tear-gas canister landed on him. “How could such a terrible thing happen and cause so many deaths?”

After the deaths at Kanjuruhan Stadium on Saturday, police officers with a damaged police car.

People are talking about how the police used tear gas in such a crowded stadium because of the accident. “National Police Chief” was one of the most talked-about topics on Twitter in Indonesia, with many people calling for him to be fired. A spokesman for the national police said that at least 300 people had been hurt, on top of the huge number of people who had died.

In Indonesia, fights between major teams are often violent and even deadly. Some teams even have fan clubs with “commanders” who are in charge of leading large groups of fans. People often throw flares onto the field, and riot police are often present at many games. Dozens of soccer fans have been killed in fights since the 1990s.

But Indonesia has never had a disaster like this at a sports stadium before. Everything that could go wrong at a soccer game seemed to happen all at once on Saturday.

The president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has asked the head of the police to look into the cause of the accident in detail. In a speech to the whole country that was broadcast on TV, he also said that he had asked the minister of youth and sports and the head of Indonesia’s football association to look into how safe soccer games are.

“I’m sorry this terrible thing happened,” Mr. Joko said. “I hope this is the last bad thing to happen in football in the country.”

The police said that they had to use tear gas to stop angry fans from getting out of hand. Inspector General Nico Afinta, who is in charge of the police in East Java, said that the gas was used “because there was chaos.” He said that the fans “were going to attack the police and had already messed up the cars.”

But witnesses disagree with Mr. Afinta’s story. They say that police officers shot tear gas into the stands without aiming, which caused a stampede and caused many people to suffocate. Fans tried to escape the clouds of tear gas, and videos of them climbing a fence were shared on Twitter. Other videos showed security guards kicking and hitting fans who had run onto the field with shields and batons.

The stadium had too many people in it. Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s minister in charge of coordinating political, legal, and security matters, said that the local football committee had printed 42,000 tickets, which is more than the 38,000 seats in the stadium. The head of the police force in East Java, Mr. Afinto, said that there were 40,000 people in the stadium.

Fans of soccer helped a man who was hurt get out of the stadium.

The police came with tear gas, even though FIFA, the world soccer body, says that it can’t be used at games. Owen West, a senior lecturer on policing at Britain’s Edge Hill University, said that using crowd control weapons and full riot gear “becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy” because officers’ “tactical assumptions are all based on a sense of losing control.”

“It is very, very dangerous to use tear gas as a way to get people to move away from here,” said Mr. West. “I think it was used without thinking about where tens of thousands of people could go.”

Joshua Nade, a fan, said that after the game was over, he saw two or three angry fans come down from the stands and yell at the players. Police came in to turn the fans away, which brought more people onto the field. Around 10:30 p.m. local time, police fired the first bursts of tear gas because of a fight between police and fans.

Then, at 11 p.m., the security forces suddenly started firing tear gas into the stands at a steady rate, said Mr. Joshua, who, like many Javanese, does not use a family name. Hundreds of people ran to the exits because of this. Mr. Joshua says that the police kept firing tear gas for an hour.

Hundreds of angry fans and police officers fought outside the stadium. Some of the exits were locked, supposedly to keep fans from flooding the stadium. But that kept tens of thousands of people from getting out.

Mr. Joshua said that some people had to climb over other scared people and climb over fences that were more than 15 feet high to get out. Mr. Joshua said that the police just watched as hundreds of people passed out from the tear gas and did nothing to help them.

In a statement, Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation said, “The large number of deaths were caused by the use of too much force, such as tear gas and bad crowd control.”

On Sunday, a family member of a victim sat outside a hospital in Malang, East Java.

A photographer who was in the stadium said, “If there hadn’t been tear gas, there wouldn’t have been such a riot.”

Indonesia has had a problem with soccer violence for a long time, and police are always on the lookout for unruly fans. The last time police used tear gas in a way that killed someone at a soccer game was also at an Arema F.C. game in 2018. There was one death, and 214 people were hurt.

The number of people who died on Saturday made it one of the worst sports tragedies in history, along with a riot in Peru in 1964 that killed more than 300 people and an F.A. Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield, England, that killed 97 soccer fans.

Mr. Tumbaz said that at 11:45 p.m., a canister of tear gas fell on his right leg and burned his calf and foot.

When the shooting stopped, he said, he helped get more than 10 people who had passed out to the exits. He looked to see if they were still alive. Their heartbeats were weak, but he could still hear them. Then he went to the parking lot to look for his friends.

When he came back, the bodies of the people who had passed out had turned black.

Mr. Tumbaz said, “I still remember all of their faces.” “In my head, I can hear them asking for help.”

Sunday night, a lot of Arema fans in Malang held a vigil for the dead. At Stadium Gajayana, where Arema won its first title, they wore black. Many of them sang hymns to remember the people who had died.

The people who lived through it say they are still scared.

Gilang Putra Yuliazah’s father, Bambang Siswanto, said that his son and his nephew went to the game with three other boys. His nephew, who was 17 years old, did not make it out alive, and he said that his son is already struggling with survivor’s guilt.

Sunday night, fans of the Arema football club prayed at a vigil outside the Kanjuruhan Stadium.

“He was completely shocked,” Mr. Bambang said at a Malang hospital where his son was being treated. “He seemed fine when I found him, but when he saw his cousin’s dead body, he broke down. He went blank. You talk to him, but he doesn’t answer.”

Gilang’s single-named mother, Etri, said she had told him not to go to the game. But her son is a huge Arema fan and has been interested in soccer since he was a child.

Etri said, “I’ll never let him watch a soccer game again.” “I’m scared to death.”

Mr. Bambang agreed with what his wife said. He said, “Yes, we won’t let him go to a soccer game.” “Too cruel. The cops are too mean.”

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