By Oladosu Oluwagbenga
Over 174 fans have died in a stampede at an Indonesian Premier League match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya.
On Saturday, there was fighting between the opposing fans after the hosts Arema lost 3-2 at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang.
Police used tear gas to try to disperse the rioting supporters, but this did not solve the problem—rather, it exacerbated it and resulted in more casualties and injuries.
People perished as a result of being trampled and smothered while running toward the same exit, according to East Java police head Nico Afinta.
Mr. Afinta claimed that 3,000 of the about 40,000 spectators present had entered the pitch, sparking “riots,” resulting in an additional 180 individuals being injured.
It was initially reported that about 130 people had lost their lives, but officials later confirmed the death toll had risen.
The Football Association of Indonesia said it has launched an investigation into the cause of the incident and has also banned Arema from hosting games for the remainder of the season.
All remaining Liga 1 matches due to be staged this weekend were suspended following the tragedy.
The President of Asia football federation (AFC), Salman Al Khalifa, said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news coming out of football-loving Indonesia and, on behalf of the AFC and the Asian football family.
“I send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims, while expressing our speedy recovery wishes to the fans who have been injured in the incident and support to the Football Association of Indonesia and the clubs.”
Indonesia is scheduled to host the Under-20 World Cup in May and June but it is unclear if this latest development will in any way make FIFA review the situation.
“We’re sorry for this incident. This is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesian sports and youth minister, Zainudin Amal, told Kompas.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organisation of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss.”