MALANG: At least 174 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in a fatal football stampede in Indonesia‘s Javanese region of Malang, deputy East Java Governor Emil Dardak told local media on Sunday. The tragedy that struck on Saturday night has come as the latest in a long line of football stadium tragedies.
“At 9:30 am (0230 GMT) the death toll was 158, at 10:30 am the figure rose to 174 deaths. That’s the data collected by the East Java disaster mitigation agency,” Dardak told reporters.
The football league suspended play for at least a week.
The sport is the country’s most popular and violence around the game has remained a constant with huge crowds turning out for bitter clashes between local rivals in the 18-team top-flight league. But the game has been blighted by hooliganism, heavy-handed policing and mismanagement with rivalries in the Indonesia’s top flight regularly turning deadly.
Since the 1990s, dozens of fans have been killed in football-related violence. Between 1994 and 2019, 74 fans died in football related violence, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. However, the Sunday’s death figure, has made this match in Kanjuruhan Stadium among the deadliest episodes in the history of football. In a televised speech to the nation, President Joko Widodo said he had asked the national police chief to do a thorough investigation into what happened.
He said he had also ordered the minister of youth and sports, the national police chief and the chairman of Indonesia’s football association to evaluate security at football matches.
After the Arema football club lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival, dozens of fans rushed the field at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Arema’s home.
Video footage from local news channels showed people rushing onto the pitch in the stadium in Malang and images of body bags.
The unrest prompted police to fire tear gas, which caused panic, Inspector General Nico Afinta, the East Java Police chief, said at a news conference.
At least 129 people died after violence at a football match in #Indonesia, last night. The deaths occurred when ang… https://t.co/sqRzO1xfm8
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) 1664682761000
On Twitter, one user uploaded a video that showed fans scaling a fence as they tried to flee the clouds of tear gas. In the video, people were heard cursing police.
What caused stampede?
After the match in East Java province between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya ended, supporters from the losing team invaded the pitch and police had fired tear gas, triggering a stampede and cases of suffocation.
Hundreds of people ran to one exit gate in an effort to avoid the tear gas.
Some suffocated and others were trampled, killing 34 almost instantly.
More than 100 people died after a riot broke out at an Liga 1 football match between Arema and Persebaya at Kanjuru… https://t.co/CzXrdAhBBn
— That Guy Shane (@ProfanityNewz) 1664665456000
“There was a pileup,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta told media. “The buildup process resulted in shortness of breath and lack of oxygen.”
He further said many people were crushed and suffocated when they ran to one exit.
‘Eexcessive use of force and overcapacity was the cause’
In a statement, Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation said “the excessive use of force through the use of tear gas and inappropriate crowd control was the cause of the large number of fatalities.”
“The use of tear gas that was not in accordance with crowd control procedures resulted in supporters in the stands jostling for an exit door, causing them to be short of breath and fainting and colliding with each other,” the group said.
Afinta, the East Java police chief, defended the use of tear gas, saying it was deployed “because there was anarchy.”
“They were about to attack the officers and had damaged the cars,” he said.
Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation said the problem was made worse by the overcapacity.
Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said that the local football committee had printed 42,000 tickets, more than the stadium’s 38,000 capacity.
He said the victims died “because of the stampede.” They were trampled on and suffocated to death, he said. “There were no victims of beatings or mistreatment of the supporters,” he said.
The medical team carried out rescue efforts in the stadium and then evacuated others to several hospitals, Afinta said at the news conference.
What did authorities say?
Police, who characterised the unrest as “riots”, tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two officers were killed.
Many of the victims were trampled to death, according to police.
“Thirty-four people died inside the stadium and the rest died in hospital,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a statement on Sunday.
– Indonesia government
The Indonesian government apologised for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the stampede.
“We’re sorry for this incident… this is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesian Sports and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster Kompas.
Amali said the ministry would re-evaluate safety at football matches, including considering not allowing spectators in stadiums.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organisation of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss.”
– Football Association of Indonesia
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) suspended football matches for one week, banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season and said it would send an investigation team to Malang to establish the cause of the crush.
“We’re sorry and apologise to families of the victims and all parties over the incident,” PSSI chairman Mochamad Iriawan said.
Fan violence, a problem in Indonesia
In what appears to be one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, images captured from inside the stadium during the stampede showed huge amounts of tear gas and people clambering over fences.
People were carrying injured spectators through the chaos.
In pics: Over 100 people killed after stampede at soccer match
<p>Over 150 people were killed and around 180 injured at a soccer match in Indonesia after a crowd stampede during a riot, police said, in what appears to be one of the world’s worst stadium disasters. (AP Photo)</p>
Torched vehicles, including a police truck, littered the streets outside the stadium on Sunday morning.
FIFA communicates with Indonesia’s football association
The International Football Federation (FIFA) has communicated with Indonesia’s football association (PSSI) following a fatal stampede at a match in Java.
PSSI Secretary General Yunus Nusi said that FIFA had requested a report on the deadly incident that occurred in the Javanese city of Malang and a PSSI team had been sent to the site to investigate.
Major football stadium tragedies
May 24, 1964
– 320 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured during a stampede at a Peru-Argentina Olympic qualifier at Lima’s National Stadium. Fans could not escape the crush and were trampled or asphyxiated.
October 20, 1982
– Mystery still surrounds the total number who died at the end of a UEFA Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Dutch side Haarlem at the Luzniki Stadium resulting from a crush in a stairwell. Officially it remains at 66 — 45 of them teenagers — but according to daily newspaper Sovietski Sport the numbers were far higher, with 340 killed.
May 9, 2001
– 126 people died in Accra at the end of a match between Hearts of Oaks and Kumasi, when Kumasi supporters, angered by their team’s defeat, threw projectiles and broke chairs. Police threw tear-gas grenades, triggering a stampede.
April 15, 1989
– A crush in the stands at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans during an FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest.
May 11, 1985
– 56 people were killed when a blaze broke out in wooden stands during a match between Bradford and Lincoln City.
October 16, 1996
– Around 80 spectators lost their lives after being crushed by fans piling into a stand at the Mateo Flores National Stadium for the 1998 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica.
January 2, 1971
– 66 people were killed in a crush at the Ibrox Stadium during a Rangers-Celtic derby. It was the stadium’s second disaster, after a stand collapsed in 1902, killing 26 people.
February 1, 2012
– The Port Said stadium tragedy in Egypt saw 74 people killed after clashes between rival sets of supporters of local club Al-Masry and Cairo-based Al-Ahly.
February 17, 1974
– 48 people died and 47 were injured when 80,000 people crammed into a stadium with a capacity of 40,000.
April 11, 2001
– 43 people died during a stampede at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg during a match between the Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs.
January 13, 1991
– 40 died during a melee at an Orlando Pirates-Kaizer Chiefs match.
29 May, 1985
– 39 killed at Heysel Stadium in Brussels when Juventus fans tried to flee Liverpool fans.
May 5, 1992
– 18 people were killed and more than 2,300 injured when a terrace collapsed in Furiani stadium in Corsica.
January 24, 2022
– Eight people are killed and dozens more injured in a crush and stampede prior to an African Cup of Nations match between hosts Cameroon and the Comoros in Yaounde.
(With inputs from agencies)Watch Indonesia: At least 129 dead in riot, stampede at football match