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Indonesia football match stampede follow-up: ‘FIFA sanctions not likely’

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The Indonesia football match stampede at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java on Oct 1st left at least 131 people dead. One of the injured victims accused the Indonesian police of ‘dehumanizing’ the fans.

After the game, some fans got into altercations on the field, and the police overreacted by using tear gas.

As a result, the fans on the field and others ran to the closest gate, only to find it closed, which caused a stampede and suffocation and killed 125 while seven died later in hospital.

FIFA Policy Statement on Indonesia Stampede

Indonesia President Joko Widodo Friday made a video statement that FIFA will not impose sanctions on Indonesia after the deadly stampede in East Java.

He said the country would work with FIFA to improve its management of soccer matches.

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Now, FIFA president Gianni Infantino will visit Indonesia in Oct or Nov after one of the worst stadium disasters.

Following Arema FC’s defeat against Persebaya Surabaya, local TV networks captured images of fans flooding onto the field at the Kanjurujan Stadium in Malang. There are visible scuffles and what appear to be tear gas in the air. Images also showed individuals being taken away by other spectators who appeared to have lost consciousness.

Indonesia Football Match Stampede

The Indonesian President has held meetings with the football bodies’ bigwigs in order to save the country’s image just before the World Cup due this year. The incident will haunt football and a tragedy beyond is waiting, which may possibly hit the Indonesian football culture.

At least 131 dead, Police fired tear gas

Authorities reported that all 42,000 seats in the stadium were sold out for Indonesian soccer. 3,000 people, according to the police, stormed the field. At least five police cars and trucks were among the vehicles set on fire outside the stadium.

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The most watched sport in the nation, violent rivalries between local teams in the 18-team top-flight league, draw large crowds and continue to be a regular occurrence. However, Indonesian football has been marred by hooliganism, harsh law enforcement, and poor management, with rivalries in Indonesia’s top division frequently turning deadly.

This incident is reminiscent of other crowd-related tragedies like the eight fatalities that occurred in Cameroon during the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, the 74 deaths that occurred in Port Said, Egypt in 2012, and the 97 Liverpool supporters that died in Hillsborough, Yorkshire, England in 1989. The deaths in all three cases had less to do with fan violence and more to do with police negligence and ineffective crowd management.

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) announced that it would send an inquiry team to Malang to determine what caused the crash and that all football matches would be stopped for one week across Indonesia. Indonesia’s football world is in a state of grief over the football tragedy.

Tragedy in Making 

Dozens of supporters ran onto the pitch at Arema’s home stadium, Kanjuruhan Stadium, after their 3-2 loss to Persebaya Surabaya, the first defeat of Arema to their bitter rival in more than 20 years.

Pictures of body bags and people running onto the pitch in the Indonesian soccer match were captured on camera by local news outlets.

Police deployed tear gas in response to the unrest, which spread panic, said Inspector General Nico Afinta, the chief of the East Java Police, at a press conference.

The Use of Tear Gas. Indonesia Football Tragedy

No guns or crowd control gas shall be carried by or deployed by police or stewards in charge of crowd management, according to a clear regulation developed by FIFA, the regulatory body of football.

This recommendation has some justification. Such policing is carried out to restore order when riots break out, and the violence spirals out of control with little regard for the safety of the general people. Using guns or tear gas to disperse crowds in stadiums, which are regulated and closed areas, would simply increase the mayhem and endanger the general public. An inquiry for comment regarding whether the Indonesia East Java police were aware of such rules was not immediately answered.

The football community is “in a state of shock following the dreadful incidents that have taken place in Indonesia,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement to Reuters, adding that the incident was a “dark day for all involved.”

Indonesia Football Match Stampede

FIFA has asked PSSI for a report on the event, and PSSI has sent a team to Malang to look into it, according to PSSI Secretary General Yunus Nusi.

Football is without a doubt the most watched spectator sport in the world, with legions of ardent fans from a variety of nations. This is large because of the sport’s accessibility and emphasis on ability and teamwork. However, the flip side of fanatical spectators is that they lose sight of the players’ skills or the game itself because of their tribal emotions for and against certain clubs or players.

One of the main causes of the stoked sentiments that come with spectator sports, which are also fueled by economic and political interests, is this false sense of identification with the actual participants in a competitive game while only being a spectator.

The incident shook the football world that killed at least 125 people while seven later lost their life battle when they were getting medical treatments. The Indonesian football match death toll spiked when Police use tear gas on Saturday night.

Indonesian National Police Chief Comments

The Indonesian National Police (Polri) Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said that 31 police personnel have been who guarded the match at Kanjuruhan Stadium for the arema team match, were suspected of committing ethical misconduct which leads to the death of 131 football fans.

Listyo explained that those found guilty will be processed under the institution’s court of ethics. “An ethical misconduct process will be held,” said Listyo on Thursday, October 6, 2022. 

Indonesia Football Match Stampede

The netizens urged authorities to hold Indonesian police accountable for their ‘aggressive’ crowd control tactics at Kanjuruhan, the frequency of such tragedies should also cause every sports fan to reflect on their responsibility as spectators. It’s one thing to enjoy watching the game, but quite another if that enjoyment becomes a fatal attraction.

Maximum Penalty

If Policemen are found guilty, they will face a maximum five-year prison sentence.

The six initial suspects are Director of PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) Akhmad Hadian Lukita, Head of the Organizing Committee for the Arema FC Competition Abdul Haris, Security Officer Suko Sutrisno, Commander of East Java Company III Brimob Police AKP Hasdarman, Head of Malang Police Ops Wahyu SS, and Policeman Bambang Sidik Achmadi.

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