Tear gas causes crush at Indonesia soccer event, killing 174

Tear gas causes crush at Indonesia soccer event, killing 174

One of the worst sporting incidents in history, police firing tear gas into an Indonesian soccer stadium to disperse rioting spectators caused panic and a chaotic rush for the exits, leaving at least 174 dead, the most crushed or smothered.

The police’s use of tear gas, which FIFA forbids at soccer stadiums, instantly came to light. President Joko Widodo ordered a probe into security measures while the head of the international soccer organization termed the fatalities at the stadium “a tragic day for those engaged in football and a sorrow beyond understanding.”

After the game, which saw Persebaya of Surabaya defeat the host Arema FC of Malang, East Java, 3-2, violence broke out.

Thousands of Arema fans, often known as “Aremania,” were upset over their team’s defeat and responded by hurling bottles and other items at players and soccer officials. According to eyewitnesses, Arema supporters flocked to the field at Kanjuruhan Stadium and clamoured for management to explain why this match against Persebaya, the team’s archrival for 23 years, ended in defeat.

At least five police cars were overturned and set on fire outside the stadium as the violence escalated there. Tear gas was fired by riot police in response, including at the stadium’s stands, which alarmed the audience.

As hundreds of people rushed to the door to escape the tear gas, some choked to death and others were crushed underfoot. 34 people perished in the stadium as a result of the turmoil, including two cops and children, according to some sources.

East Java police commander Nico Afinta stated at a press conference early on Sunday that “we have already done a preventative step before eventually launching the tear gas as (fans) started to assault the police, behaving anarchically, and burning cars.”

More than 300 people were taken directly to hospitals, but Afinta claimed many of them passed either during route and while receiving care.

174 people have died, according to East Java’s Vice Governor Emil Dardak, who also reported to Kompas TV that more than 100 wounded persons are getting urgent care in eight hospitals, with 11 of them in serious condition.

Due to the disaster, Indonesia’s top soccer competition Liga 1 was halted indefinitely, and Arema was prohibited from hosting matches for the balance of the campaign.

Police and rescuers were seen transporting the dead and wounded to ambulances in television broadcasts.

At Saiful Anwar General Hospital in Malang, grieving loved ones awaited news of their deaths. While medical professionals placed identifying tags on the victims’ corpses, others attempted to identify the dead lying in a mortuary.

In a speech that was shown on television, Widodo stated, “I profoundly regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer disaster in our nation; don’t allow another human tragedy like this happen in the future.” “We must continue to uphold good sportsmanship, compassion, and a feeling of the Indonesian nation’s fraternity.”

He gave orders for a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s soccer and security procedures to be carried out by the youth and sports minister, the national police head, and the PSSI chair.

The tragedy occurred while we were getting ready for soccer game activities at the national and international levels, Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said.

24 countries will compete in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Indonesia from May 20 to June 11. The nation automatically qualifies for the cup since it is the host.

Amali remarked, “Unfortunately, this episode has definitely damaged our soccer image.

The football world is in a state of shock, said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement that did not mention the deployment of tear gas, as he offered condolences on behalf of the whole football community.

The game on Saturday drew around 42,000 people, all of whom were Arema supporters since the organizer had forbidden Persebaya supporters from entering the stadium in an attempt to prevent fights, according to Ferli Hidayat, the local police head of Malang.

The ban was put in place after fights between fans of the two competing clubs at East Java’s Blitar stadium in February 2020 that resulted in damage of 250 million rupiah ($18,000). During and during the East Java Governor’s Cup semifinals, which saw Persebaya defeat Arema 4-2, fights were reported outside the stadium.

Rights organizations blamed the police deployment of tear gas inside the stadium for the tragedy.

Amnesty International urged Indonesian authorities to launch a prompt, exhaustive, and impartial inquiry into the use of tear gas at Kanjuruhan stadium, citing FIFA’s stadium safety regulations that forbid pitch side stewards or police from possessing or using “crowd control gas.”

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, stated, “Those who are found to have violated the law are prosecuted in open court and do not only receive internal or administrative punishments.”

He advised against using tear gas to disperse crowds until there has been significant violence and all other measures have failed. Tear gas must be deployed, and the public must be informed and given time to leave. Hamid said that “nobody should perish during a football game.”

Despite Indonesia’s lack of recognition in the sport on the world stage, hooliganism is rampant in the soccer-obsessed nation, where fervor often results in bloodshed, as in the case of a Persija Jakarta supporter who was slain by a mob of fervent Persib Bandung supporters in 2018.

The 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City, when over 80 people perished and over 100 more were wounded, is considered one of the greatest crowd catastrophes in history, and Saturday’s game is already on that list. At Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, a soccer match in April 2001 results in the deaths of more than 40 spectators.

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