Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang stormed the pitch after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya. Police responded with tear gas, triggering a stampede, officials said.
By Le Monde with AFP
Security officers detain a fan during a clash between supporters of two Indonesian soccer teams at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, October 1, 2022.
At least 174 people died at a football stadium in Indonesia when fans invaded the pitch and police responded with tear gas, triggering a stampede, authorities said Sunday, October 2. The tragedy on Saturday night in the eastern city of Malang, which also left 180 injured, was one of the world’s deadliest sporting stadium disasters.
Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang stormed the pitch late on Saturday after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival.
Police, who characterized 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, adding that two of the victims were police officers and that many people were crushed and suffocated when they ran to one exit. He initially said a total of 127 people had died, but the toll was later raised to 174. A hospital director told local TV that one of the victims was five years old.
Images captured from inside the stadium during the stampede showed huge amounts of tear gas and people clambering over fences. The stadium holds 42,000 people and authorities said it was a sell-out. Police said 3,000 people stormed the pitch.
People were carrying injured spectators through the chaos. Torched vehicles, including a police truck, littered the streets outside the stadium on Sunday morning.
Officers examine a damaged police vehicle following a clash between supporters of two Indonesian soccer teams at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, October 1, 2022.
‘A regrettable incident’
The Indonesian government apologized 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.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organization of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss.”
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 apologize to families of the victims and all parties over the incident,” PSSI chairman Mochamad Iriawan said.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where deep rivalries have turned into deadly confrontations. Some matches – the biggest being the Old Indonesia Derby between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung – are so heated players from top teams have to travel to away games under heavy protection.