Stampede at Indonesian Soccer Match Kills at Least 125


Antara Foto/Zabur Karuru/ via REUTERS

A woman weeps at an Indonesian soccer arena following a clash between fans and police officers that caused deaths and injuries.

Sierra Lynch, Staff Writer

   Indonesian police are under investigation following a soccer match stampede that killed at least 125 people on Oct. 1.

   The Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang is designed to hold 38,000. According to Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister’s Twitter, 42,000 tickets were sold for Sunday’s match which is dangerously over capacity.

   The violence began in the overcrowded stands after Arema lost to their rival team Persebaya Surabaya 2-3. From the stands, outraged fans threw objects at the players and officials. Several police cars in the parking lot were set on fire and flipped over. Police officers were attacked as well.

   In response, the riot police began to fire tear gas into the stands with reckless abandon and fans rushed to the exits to escape it. Fans hit by the gas suffered from blurred vision and shortness of breath which hindered their escape. Piles of bodies obstructed the exits as hundreds of fans tried to squeeze through narrow doorways. As a result, many sustained injuries or died from being trampled.

   About 300 fans were taken to hospitals, and many of them died in transit. Across eight hospitals in the area, over 100 fans ended up in intensive care, and 11 were in critical condition. At least 34 victims died before they had the chance to leave the stadium. Among the victims were many children, the youngest was only three years of age. 

   The Indonesian Police Chief and nine other officers were removed from their posts following this tragedy for their unjustified use of tear gas and an additional 18 officers are under investigation. Security Minister Mahfud MD stated that investigators could not “diminish the conclusion that the massive [number of] deaths were mainly caused by tear gas.” 

   FIFA’s safety guidelines prohibit the use of tear gas in their stadiums. As a response to this incident, the PSSI and FIFA have created a task force to reform their crowd control measures and improve venue safety. President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has stated that “Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang … we will demolish it and rebuild according to FIFA standards.”