Indonesia is bereaved by one of the worst tragedies ever to occur in a football stadium.
At least 174 people died on Saturday, October 1, 2022, in the town of Malang, in the east of the island of Java, during a crowd movement when thousands of fans invaded a football field and were sprayed with tear gas, according to a latest report from local authorities.
A tragedy according to FIFA
The incident also caused around a hundred injuries in this Southeast Asian archipelago where rivalries between supporters often have serious consequences.
The disaster is “a tragedy beyond imagining,” International Football Federation (FIFA) president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
Some 3,000 supporters of the Arema FC team entered the pitch at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang city after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya. It was the first time in more than twenty years that Arema FC had lost to their great rival.
Police, who called the incident a “riot”, tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas canisters after two officers were killed. Many people were fatally trampled. Survivors described panicked onlookers, blocked by crowds.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where long-running rivalries have turned into deadly clashes. The context of some matches – the most important being the Old Indonesia Derby between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung – is so tense that players from top teams have to go there under heavy protection.