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At least 174 die after violence in Indonesian game

Kanjuruhan Stadium tragedy: At least 174 people killed after riot and stampede in Indonesian top-flight fixture

October 2, 2022 By Ali M.
Arema FC lost 3-2 at home to Persebaya Surabaya, sparking a pitch invasion, with riot police responding with tear gas that led to a tragic stampede.

One of the deadliest sporting events has sadly taken place in Indonesia, with 174 people – and counting – losing their lives during an ugly incident immediately after a Liga 1 fixture on Saturday.

Arema FC, a club located in Malang city, hosted Persebaya Surabaya but suffered an undesirable 3-2 loss in front of their own fans. This sparked anger from the home supporters, known as Aremania, with hundreds of them invading the pitch to confront the players and officials.

The pitch invaders threw bottles and other objects while demanding answers from the Arema management as to why their run of 23 years of undefeated home games came to an end.

Due to the violence, riot police intervened and fired tear gas both on the field and into the stands despite its usage in football stadiums being banned by FIFA, with this leading to a stampede as everyone began running for the exit.

Many fans were seen attempting to scale the fences in order to escape the tear gas but horrifically fell to the ground, lost consciousness, and got trampled on. Others suffocated, leading to 34 deaths inside the stadium, some of which were children while two were policemen. 

The riot continued outside the stadium, with five police cars being flipped over and set on fire. Due to the chaos both inside and outside the grounds, more than 300 people were rushed to hospital with injuries but sadly, many passed away either on the way to or while receiving treatment.

And to make things worse, East Java police chief Nico Afinta says (as per the Daily Mail) that the death toll is destined to increase as approximately 180 people are under intensive care but are deteriorating.

Other horrific reports have emerged from this tragedy at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang Regency. Abel Camará, a former striker for second-tier Portuguese side B-SAD, currently plays for Arema FC and was present during this unforgettable game, revealing that there were seven or eight dead bodies in the dressing room. Another footage from a nearby hospital showed "rows of bodies turned blue" in the hallways.

According to local police, a total of 42,000 people attended this fixture but none were supporters of the away team as Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from this game due to safety concerns. 

In the aftermath of this disaster, PSSI, Indonesia's football association, has suspended the league indefinitely and has also banned Arema from hosting matches for the remainder of the season. And with this being one of the deadliest sporting events in history, the footballing world has united in sending their condolences to the people of Indonesia, with the Premier League and several of its biggest teams issuing heartfelt messages.


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