Indonesia: Police Officers On Trial Over Soccer Stampede

    Indonesia: Police Officers On Trial Over Soccer Stampede
    Last updated Jan 17, 2023
    Image credit: reuters


    • An Indonesian court began a trial on Monday of three police officers, a security official, and a match organizer charged with negligence over their alleged roles in a deadly soccer stadium stampede that claimed the lives of 135 people last October[1]
    • They could face a maximum prison sentence of five years if convicted over the disaster at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, which reportedly occurred after police fired tear gas to disperse fans who flooded the pitch after the home team lost to their rival.[2]
    • The incident has prompted widespread questions surrounding the training and professionalism of Indonesia's police, with an official fact-finding team concluding that the "excessive" and "indiscriminate" use of tear gas by the police had set off a panicked run for the exits.[3]
    • There were initially six suspects but one still remains under police investigation. Tear gas, along with firearms, is prohibited at matches according to guidelines set out by soccer's international governing body FIFA.[4]
    • At the time of the disaster, police characterized the incident as a riot and announced two police officers were killed. Videos of the event show officers using force, kicking and hitting fans with batons, and pushing spectators back into the stands.[5]
    • Indonesia's human rights commission found that police fired 45 rounds of tear gas into the crowd at the end of the match. The commission also determined that locked doors, stadium overcapacity, and negligence in implementing safety measures worsened the death toll.[6]


    Narrative A

    Soccer riots are relatively common in Indonesia, and this tragedy highlights the problems with the use of tear gas by Indonesian police — which has played a role in many stadium disasters in the nation's history. It's baffling that the police claim they didn't know that tear gas was banned by FIFA. The entire tragedy can be blamed upon years of mismanagement and corruption at the heart of Indonesian soccer.

    Narrative B

    Indonesian soccer seems to be driven by hooliganism, and it must be remembered that the disaster began after the home team was beaten. While police and management of Indonesian soccer must be held accountable, we must also hope that the disaster will be a long-overdue wake-up call to stand up against hooligan culture and crowd violence.

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