In one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, 125 people were killed and hundreds injured after Indonesian police used tear gas to quell a pitch invasion, prompting a stampede at a soccer stadium on October 1.
After angry fans of the losing home team in Malang, East Java invaded the pitch after the final whistle, officers fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
According to police chief Nico Afinta, rather than dispersing, the crowd grew violent, attacking police officers and damaging cars. When fans fled for the exit gates, a “crush occurred.”
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, stipulates in its safety regulations that “crowd control gas” cannot be used by police. However, East Java police did not say whether they were aware of FIFA regulations against the use of tear gas.
In a statement to Reuters, FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed shock at the incident, calling it a “dark day for all involved.”
PSSI secretary general Yunus Nusi told reporters that a team had been sent to Malang to investigate the incident. FIFA has requested a report from PSSI.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s human rights commission also plans to investigate security at the stadium and the use of tear gas.
The following evening, hundreds attended a candlelight vigil in Jakarta, carrying signs reading “stop police brutality.”
Amnesty International Indonesia blasted the excessive use of force, saying in a statement that the attempts to “contain and control” the crowd “cannot be justified at all.”
According to Indonesia’s chief security minister, Mahfud MD, the stadium issued around 42,000 tickets, far exceeding its maximum capacity of 38,000.
Stampedes at soccer stadiums have led to mass deaths before.
In 1964, 328 people were crushed in a stampede at the Estadio Nacional in Peru.
In England in 1989, 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield when an overcrowded fenced-in enclosure collapsed.