Hundreds of football fans gathered to share their sorrow and prayers for the Malang Kanjuruhan Stadium victims on Sunday, 2nd October. Football fans and other Bali citizens gathered at the Catur Muka Statue Roundabout in Denpasar yesterday evening. Together they lit candles, held prayers, and created a floral tribute to the 174 people who died in the tragedy.
The Malang Kanjuruhan Stadium is one of the worst stadium disasters in history. Tragically, 174 people have lost their lives, with over 300 more injured. Reports have suggested that authorities are expecting the death toll to rise. The incident occurred on Saturday evening at a football match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya. Shortly after the final whistle was blown, a number of supporters stormed the pitch, and there were reports of bottles being thrown and fights breaking out.
As the pitch raid broke out, security officials deployed the use of tear gas on the groups that had gathered on the pitch. Players had to be rushed back into the building by armed security officers. As the tear gas was deployed, those spectators still in the stands scrambled to exit the stadium causing a crush.
It is believed that most of those who lost their lives did so due to suffocation and crushing. Indonesia’s chief security minister has since confirmed that the stadium exceeded its capacity of 38,000 by around 4,000 people.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered an investigation into the disaster, and authorities have already called the security teams responsible for managing the incident in for questioning. Two police officers also died in the indent. Widodo has also ordered that all Indonesian premier league football matches be stopped until the investigation is complete. According to BBC News, Amnesty International has already called out the police’s response, likening their actions to ‘use of excessive force by the state’.
The Chief of Police for East Java, Nico Afinta, told the press in the immediate aftermath that ‘It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars…We would like to convey that… not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch’. He explained that victims ‘went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a build-up, in the process of accumulation, there was shortness of breath, and lack of oxygen’.
In Bali last night, hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects and reflect on the disaster. Dewa Yudistira, 35, a Bali FC supporter, was one of the mourners. Yudistira told reporters, ‘It will serve as an example so that in the future, something similar will not happen and there will be no further victims. This [response] is a good start for Bali supporters, in particular, to learn from the tragedy. He also shared his condolences with the families of those who lost loved ones on Saturday.
The Coordinator for the Indonesian Football Association in Bali, I Made Mustika Yasa, told reporters that the memorial was a spontaneous event that was organized at short notice. He explained that many people came out to share moral support for bereaved families. He explained, ‘Apart from taking lives, the Malang tragedy has become a blurry record of Indonesian football where administratively the tragedy has an impact on FIFA’s assessment of competition in Indonesia’.
The vigil was also attended by an Arema FC fan living in Bali. Dewata Bayu expressed his condolences to his fellow fans and rivals who were involved in the tragedy. He told reporters that he hoped nothing like Saturday’s disaster ever happens again and that fans can build on a shared commitment to creating healthy, brotherly rivalry in sport.
Indonesia is set to host the FIFA U20s World Cup in 2023, with matches set to be held in Jakarta, Palembang, Bandung, Surakarta, Surabaya, and Bali. While FIFA has not suggested that they will pull the games away from Indonesia in light of the Malang tragedy, there will undoubtedly be serious discussions about crowd control and stadium management moving forward.
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