Indonesia Soccer Stampede: Trial Marred by Intimidation Claims

    Indonesia Soccer Stampede: Trial Marred by Intimidation Claims
    Last updated Feb 17, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • Video footage shared on social media showed members of Indonesia's special forces Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) on Tuesday trying to disrupt the ongoing trial of five people over the 2022 deadly crush at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the city of Malang.
    • This came a day after disgraced former police general Ferdy Sambo was sentenced to death in a high-profile trial that attracted national attention after being found guilty of ordering the murder of a subordinate officer.
    • Three police officers, including the commander of the 3rd Brimob Company of the East Java Police, are facing court on charges of negligence leading to death, and bodily harm. They allegedly failed to carry out basic security checks and allowed the use of tear gas in the stadium, despite FIFA, which governs the sport, prohibiting it.
    • The incident, which happened in October, claimed the lives of 135 people and was one of the world's deadliest soccer stadium stampedes. The trial started last month in a court in Surabaya and has since been held via teleconference due to security concerns.
    • An investigation team set up by Pres. Joko Widodo concluded that the indiscriminate use of tear gas in the stands and outside the venue was the main cause of the crowd surge, prompting over 42K people inside the 36K-seat stadium to rush to the exits.
    • Meanwhile, Indonesian police on Friday used water cannons and tear gas to disband hundreds of soccer fans who sought to attend a closed-door match. There were no immediate reports of casualties.


    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 lost. 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.