An Indonesian goalkeeper expressed regret on Thursday after the death of a striker he kicked in the stomach during a match in one of the nation’s top leagues.
Agus Rohman said he had received death threats after Akli Fairuz, 27, died, but insisted he was not solely to blame and suggested the player’s medical treatment was inadequate.
Agus told AFP that when he heard the news, he “couldn’t stop crying.
“I have never in my life intended to hurt or kill my opponents.”"
“I regretted what happened, why did he have to die from my kick? I am truly sorry to Akli, to his family, to everyone,” the 34-year-old added.
Fairuz’s death, several days after the match on May 10, was a further blow to Indonesian football, which has been beset by numerous problems in recent years, from leadership tussles to foreign players dying after complaining of going unpaid.
The incident happened during a match between Agus’s side, PSAP Sigli, and Fairuz’s Persiraja Banda Aceh, in the city of Banda Aceh.
The clubs play in the Liga Indonesia Premier Division, the country’s second-tier league.
Video footage showed Akli run into the box of the opposing team to take a shot after the ball rebounded off Agus.
But the goalkeeper ran out and kicked him in the stomach as he took the shot, knocking him to the ground. Akli died on May 16 in hospital, with officials saying he suffered a ruptured intestine.
However Agus insisted the kick was “not violent” and “unavoidable,” and pointed out the striker continued to watch the game from the sidelines before later being taken to hospital.
“I will not accept it if they push all the blame onto me,” he said, adding that the striker’s condition seemed to worsen after he had surgery.
The goalkeeper was due on Thursday to meet officials from the Indonesian Football Association, which has launched an investigation into the death.
Meanwhile, former FIFA referee Jimmy Napitupulu said national football stakeholders, especially players, should take a great lesson from the incident.
“Players have to respect their fellows on the pitch. They all make a living from football. They also have to respect the referee,” Jimmy said.
He added that Agus’s action was violent conduct and he deserved the red card for his action.
The match between Persiraja and PSAP was postponed for 15 minutes because
Persiraja players refused to play as they haven’t got paid for months. It also made players act brutally on the pitch, Jimmy said.
“It’s like a jungle in Aceh. There are no rules. That’s why all referees always refuse when they’re assigned to Aceh. Players can do whatever they want.”