'Fans' frustration, mishandling of crowd control led to deadly stadium tragedy in Indonesia'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2022 11:13 PM

This picture shows a torched car outside Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java on October 2, 2022. At least 127 people were killed when angry fans invaded a football pitch after a match in Malang, East Java in Indonesia late on October 1, police said. PUTRI / AFP
This picture shows a torched car outside Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java on October 2, 2022. At least 127 people were killed when angry fans invaded a football pitch after a match in Malang, East Java in Indonesia late on October 1, police said. PUTRI / AFP

At least 125 people were killed and dozens injured when a riot escalated into a deadly stampede following a game between heated rival Indonesian clubs at at Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java.

Simon McMenemy, former coach of the Philippine Azkals, explained what caused the tragedy after the football match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya.

"They're two of the biggest supported teams in the country. They are less than an hour from each other by road, so it means that they're always in each other's faces, they're always close... They are sworn enemies in terms of their supporters," said McMenemy, in an interview on Off the Record with Migs Bustos and Cesca Litton-Kalaw.

"That often leads to hooliganism and incidents in the street or car park or in the stadium itself. Sadly, they were littered with story of incidents, they didn't like each other."

The football coach said there was an intense build up days leading to the game, prompting game officials to try controlling the influx of spectators to the 38,000-seater stadium.

But McMenemy said this was largely unsuccessful as the venue was crammed with 40,000 fans on game day, mostly die-hard supporters of Arema.

After an intense game, Persebaya won over Arema, 3-2.

"The fans didn't accept that, they wanted to be on the pitch, they want to come and demonstrate with the players, tearing seats in the stadium and throwing them. Such is the Indonesian way, this is what I've experienced many times," he said.

Police tried to control the crowd by firing tear gas. Unfortunately, it triggered a stampede.

"They managed to get them back to the stands, they then decided...applied tear gassing... not a little bit tear gas, substantial amount of tear gas. Into a stadium and an old school stand... you have an over brimmed stadium trying to get out to these small exits. There was nowhere else to go," he said.

"Quite sadly, I talked to one of my ex players, he was playing in that game. he's been traumatized to the point he doesn't know if he's gonna play football again."

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