The death toll in a local football match in Indonesia has risen to 174. Most of the supporters were crushed to death when the police fired tear gas to stop the clashes. The clashes broke out in the eastern Indonesian city of Malang on Saturday evening when hosts Arema FC lost 3-2 to Surabaya club Persebaya.
Frustrated by the defeat, Arema FC supporters threw bottles and other objects at the players and officials. At one stage of the protest they even entered the grounds of the Kanjuruhan Stadium and chanted slogans against the Arema authorities. Their only question was why a team that had been unbeaten at home for 23 years would lose like this. Gradually the protest spread outside the stadium. At one stage, the unruly supporters vandalized five police vehicles. The clashes turned so violent that the police were forced to fire tear gas. However, according to FIFA rules, the use of anything that causes panic among people in stadiums under any circumstances is prohibited.
At that time, when the angry crowd wanted to run out of the stadium, most of them were trampled to death, many died of suffocation. Local police confirmed that 34 people died inside the stadium, including two police officers. The rest died after being taken to the hospital. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government has apologized for this incident. They promised to investigate the matter. Zainuddin Amali, Minister of Youth and Sports of the country, told the media that the sad incident happened at a time when football fans and supporters have the opportunity to go to the stadium and watch the game.
East Java police chief Niko Afinta said in a press conference on Sunday morning, ‘We finally decided to use tear gas because of the attack on the police. Before that, efforts were made to prevent them properly.’
More than 300 people injured in the clash have been admitted to hospital. Afinta said the number of deaths may increase. Because about 180 of the injured have been kept under close observation.
The Indonesian Soccer Association has already announced the suspension of the Premier Soccer League Liga 1 indefinitely. At the same time, the rest of the season, Arema will not be given the opportunity to organize any more matches.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Indonesia from May 2 to June 11 next year, where 24 teams will participate. As the host, Indonesia directly qualified for the Youth World Cup. Amali said such a tragic incident will definitely damage the image of Indonesian football.
Meanwhile, Malang’s local police chief Ferli Hidayat said that most of the 42,000 fans present at the stadium yesterday were Armenians. Because to avoid any kind of clash, the host had banned the fans from entering the stadium.