According to the authorities, at least 129 people died in serious riots after a soccer match in the Indonesian province of East Java. Thousands of angry fans stormed the lawn of Kanjuruhan Stadium, police said, after their club Arema FC lost the Premier League game 3-2 to arch-rivals Persebaya Surabaya - their first loss in more than two decades. The police then said they tried to get fans to return to the stands and eventually fired tear gas into the crowd after two police officers were killed. According to the police, this triggered a mass panic.
At one exit there was a traffic jam and "shortness of breath and lack of oxygen," said local police chief Nico Afinta. Many of the victims were therefore trampled to death. 34 people died on the field, all others in hospitals. According to him, around 180 people are still in clinics. The riots also damaged 13 vehicles, including ten police vehicles. Photos published on the tvOne website show, among other things, a completely destroyed car in the stadium. Other pictures show the storming of the square and clouds of smoke on the football field and in the stands.
The tragedy in Malang is one of the worst sports stadium disasters in the world. As a consequence, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo ordered a security review of the country's football games. The country's sports and youth minister, the national police chief and the head of the Indonesian Football Confederation have been ordered to "carry out a thorough assessment of football matches and security procedures," Widodo said in a televised statement.
The organizers have ignored the authorities' recommendation to hold the game in the afternoon instead of in the evening, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said. According to him, the government had recommended printing only 38,000 tickets. Instead, all 42,000 stadium seats were sold.
The Arema and Persebaya football clubs expressed their condolences to the victims and their families. "Arema FC expresses its sincere condolences for the disaster in Kanjuruhan. Arema FC's management is also responsible for dealing with the victims, both dead and injured," said club boss Abdul Haris. The club will set up a crisis center and a victim information center. "To the families of the victims, the management of Arema FC sincerely apologizes and stands ready to provide compensation. The management stands ready to accept proposals for dealing with the disaster so that many can be saved," said Haris.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia. Deep rivalries often result in deadly disputes. Some games are so charged that top team players have to travel to away games under protection.
The accident at the British Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 is considered one of the most devastating in the world, when 97 Liverpool FC fans died when the stands collapsed. In 2012, 74 people died in a stadium riot in Port Said, Egypt, after a soccer game. In 1964, a stampede during an Olympic qualifying match between Peru and Argentina at the National Stadium in Lima killed 320 and injured more than 1,000.