At Least 125 Fans Killed During Stampede At Indonesian Soccer Match | “Officers Fired Tear Gas Directly At Spectators”

Clashes between supporters of two Indonesian soccer teams in East Java province killed over 100 fans and a number of police officers, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday. (AP Photo/Yudha Prabowo)

A soccer match in Indonesia on Saturday turned ugly as at least 125 fans were killed during a stampede. Violence erupted after the game ended when fans of the losing side began throwing bottles and objects at players. Police arrived on the scene and fired tear gas, causing mass chaos where fans were trampled upon and suffocated.

The game took place at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java. Home team Arema FC lost the match 3-2 to rivals Persebaya Surabaya. It’s already being called one of the deadliest sports events in history.

During a 1996 World Cup qualifier qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City over 80 people died and 100 more were injured. In April 2001, more than 40 people were crushed to death during a soccer match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“The football world is in a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. “This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension.”

The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, ordered an investigation of security procedures. FIFA has no jurisdiction over domestic games but has advised against the use of tear gas at soccer stadiums.

The violence spilled out from the stadium onto the surrounding streets. Police vehicles were toppled and set on fire.

A spectator said violence broke out between police and some of the spectators in the stadium.

“| in the stands, forcing us to run toward the exit,” fan Ahmad Fatoni said after the game. “Many victims fell because of shortness of breath and difficulty seeing due to tear gas and were trampled.”

East Java police say they followed the proper procedures as outlined by their department.

“We have already done a preventive action before finally firing the tear gas as [fans] began to attack the police, acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a news conference early Sunday.

Violence at sporting events is unfortunately more commonplace than it should be. Some fans take losses too seriously and if inclined violence can occur.

The scene at Kanjuruhan stadium was wild according to another spectator. There were many children present and caught in the melee.

“The stadium turned into a smoke-filled battleground when police fired tear gas,” said a spectator identified only as Rizky, who came with his cousin to watch the game.
“I felt hot and stinging in my eyes, I couldn’t see clearly while my head was dizzy and everything went dark. … I passed out,” he said. He said that when he woke up, he was already in the emergency room. He said his cousin died because of head injuries.
“We wanted to entertain ourselves by watching a football match, but we got disaster,” he said.

Limiting the types of materials food and beverages are served in at games is a measure many sports have adopted. Stopping the sale of alcohol past a certain point is done as well.

Association football, or soccer, is the most popular sport in the world. The sport has roughly 3.5 billion fans worldwide, and 250 million players in 200 countries around the world.


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