A Stadium Stampede

By: Elsa Halisurahim — Correspondent

Chaos erupted after fans invaded the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, Indonesia during a soccer match between two local teams on October 1st.

 Fans rushed to exits after Indonesian police fired tear gas toward stands in a bid to control the chaos which led to 125 people dying and many more injured.

Tickets were issued to hold the stadium for only 38,000 people but were pushed to 40,000. The match started between local team Arema FC and Persebaya, Surabaya.  Home fans invaded the pitch after losing 3-2 to Persebaya, Surabaya. People in the stands started throwing bottles and other objects toward the field. As home fans invaded the field, players rushed to changing rooms for protection. Police fired tear gas toward the stands.

“The stadium turned into a smoke-filled battleground when police fired tear gas,” said spectator Rizky, who watched the game with his cousin during the incident.

Most deaths were caused by the tear gas that was launched from the police. “There needs to be legal responsibility,” said Komnas HAM chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik. Komnas HAM commissioners also specified seven violations of human rights in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, including the excessive use of force and violation of children’s rights, as the fatalities included 38 minors.

“The gas burned,” said fan Elmiati, 33. She was seated near the exit in section 13 with her husband and three-year-old son but was separated by them during the chaos. Both of them died in injuries later that night. “They kept firing into the tribunes…but people had no idea what was happening,”.“We weren’t the ones who had run onto the field,” added Elmiati.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo says that an official investigation will follow. “An independent fact-finding team formed because we want to investigate thoroughly, nothing is covered up, those who are wrong will be given sanctions, if they are convicted they will also be punished. I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this soccer will be the last in our country,” Jokowi said.

An Indonesian man Andi Hariyanto lost nearly his entire family but managed to grab his youngest son from the chaos.  “I will never watch (soccer) again,” said Hariyanto.

FIFA president Gianno Infantino shows compassion to people who were affected by the tragedy. “The death of at least 174 people in an Indonesian stadium stampede is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension. All thoughts and prayers are with the victims, those who had been injured together, with the people of the Republic of Indonesia,” Infantino added.

“Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang…we will demolish it and rebuild according to FIFA standards,”President Joko Widodo said after meeting with FIFA President Gianno Infantino. “We agreed to thoroughly transform Indonesian soccer,” he said. 

“Every aspect of preparation…needs to be based on FIFA standards” said Jokowi. 

“This is a football country, a country where football is a passion for over 100 million people,” he said. “We owe it to them that when they see a match they are safe and secure,” Jokowi also added. 

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