Indonesian football riot: 32 children among the victims of stadium disaster

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Indonesia has set up an independent team to investigate a stampede at a football stadium that killed 125 people, including 32 children, as the country’s human rights commission questioned the police use of tear gas.
Panic-stricken spectators stampeded as they tried to escape the over-packed stadium in Malang, East Java, on Saturday (local time) after police fired tear gas to disperse fans from the losing home side who ran onto the pitch at the end of the BRI Liga 1 match in the domestic league.
At least 32 of the victims were children aged between three and 17, Nahar, an official at the women’s empowerment and child protection ministry, told news agency Reuters on Monday.

The official earlier put the death toll of children at 17.

Relatives react while waiting for confirmation whether their missing relatives are among those killed in a soccer match stampede at a hospital in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, 2 October 2022. Source: AAP / SANDI SADEWA/EPA

“My family and I didn’t think it would turn out like this,” said Endah Wahyuni, the elder sister of two boys, Ahmad Cahyo, 15, and Muhammad Farel, 14, who died after being caught in the melee.

“They loved soccer, but never watched Arema live at Kanjuruhan stadium, this was their first time,” she added at her brothers’ funeral on Sunday, referring to the home side they backed.
FIFA, the governing body for world football, says in its safety regulations that firearms or “crowd control gas” should not be used at matches.

“If there hadn’t been any tear gas maybe there wouldn’t have been chaos,” Choirul Anam, a commissioner at Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights told a briefing at the stadium.

Police and sport officials have been sent to Malang to investigate what is one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters. President Joko Widodo ordered the football association to suspend all Liga 1 matches until the investigation is completed.
Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD said the government would form an independent fact-finding team, including academics and football experts as well as government officials, to probe what happened.

The team will investigate for the next few weeks with the aim of finding out who was responsible for the tragedy, he said.

People looking for their family members inspect photographs of soccer riot victims provided by volunteers to help them identify their relatives in Malang, East Java, Indonesia.

People looking for their family members inspect photographs of soccer riot victims provided by volunteers to help them identify their relatives in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Source: AAP / Dicky Bisinglasi/AP

A ‘dark day’ for football, FIFA says

Violence and hooliganism have long been features of Indonesian football, especially in places such as Jakarta, the capital, but the scale of Saturday’s disaster in this town in Java has left the small community numb.
Indonesian daily Koran Tempo ran a black front page on Monday, centred on the words “Our Football Tragedy” printed in red along with a list of the victims.
Mahfud said on Sunday the stadium had been filled beyond capacity. Some 42,000 tickets had been issued for a stadium designed to hold 38,000 people, he said.
A tearful Arema FC president Gilang Widya Pramana apologised on Monday to the victims of the stampede and said he took full responsibility.

“Lives are more precious than soccer,” he told a news conference.

In an address on Sunday, Pope Francis said he had prayed for those who have lost their lives and for the injured from the disaster.

FIFA, which called incident a “dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension”, has asked Indonesian football authorities for a report on the incident.

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