President Joko Widodo inspects the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the East Java town of Malang on Oct. 5, 2022, four days after post-match clashes between fans and security officials that killed at least 131 people in the stadium. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Press Bureau)

Jokowi Orders Audit of Major Football Stadiums after East Java Tragedy

BY :NOVY LUMANAW, JAJA SUTEJA &, LENNY TRISTIA TAMBUN

OCTOBER 05, 2022

Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday ordered a safety audit of all stadiums that host the country’s national football leagues to assess the risks and potential hazards following post-match clashes between fans and security officials that killed 131 people in East Java last weekend.

“I want to check stadiums myself and I will order the public works minister to perform a thorough audit of all stadiums used by Liga 1, Liga 2, and Liga 3,” the president said after visiting injured victims of the tragedy who are being treated at a local hospital in the East Java town of Malang.

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The safety assessment will include everything that could potentially lead to another disaster such as the size of the gates and how a huge crowd of fans is managed, the president said.

“We must perform a total audit on everything because we don’t want a recurrence of what has happened at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in our country ever again,” Jokowi said.

The president assured that the government will shoulder all medical costs of the injured victims and pay compensation to the families of those killed in the tragedy.

Thousands of angry fans invaded the pitch at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the town after home team Arema Football Club was beaten by bitter rival Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday night. Police tear-gassed the spectators who remain in their seat rows to prevent more people from coming into the pitch or attacking players and match officials.

The use of tear gas is believed to be the main cause of the deadly incident in the chaos that ensued, as people ran in panic to the exits blanketed by thick gases. Local health officials said many people died from suffocation or in the stampede.

There were reports that many of the stadium’s gates were locked, trapping people in their seats under the smoke.

Three players of Arema Football Club pray at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the East Java town of Malang on Oct. 3, 2022, paying tribute to at least 131 people who died during post-match clashes between fans and security officials in the stadium two days earlier. (Antara Photo)
Three players of Arema Football Club pray at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the East Java town of Malang on Oct. 3, 2022, paying tribute to at least 131 people who died during post-match clashes between fans and security officials in the stadium two days earlier. (Antara Photo)

The government has set up a fact-finding team to find out the true cause of the worst football tragedy of the 21st century and prevent future recurrence.

Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD, who chairs the 13-member team, said the president gave him a month to conclude the job.

The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) has launched its own investigation and reported on Tuesday that at least 42,000 people packed the stadium during the Arema vs Persebaya match.

The Kanjuruhan Stadium has a capacity of 45,000.

But the real number of attendance remains unclear because the stadium uses long rows of concrete seating instead of chairs, according to PSSI Disciplinary Committee chairman Erwin Tobing.

“The stadium doesn’t have chairs, making it impossible to calculate,” Erwin said.

Arema is banned from playing in the town until the end of the season and fined Rp 250 million ($16,400) by PSSI. Any home match must be held at another venue at least 250 kilometers from Malang.

Abdul Haris, the chairman of the organizing committee for the Saturday match, and Arema FC security officer Suko Sutrisno are banned from any football event for the rest of their life.

Also on Tuesday, the National Police released the death toll at 131, amid conflicting numbers from various agencies including the provincial disaster mitigation agency (BPBD) which earlier said 174 people were killed in the tragedy.

Friends and family members pray at the grave of police officer Fajar Yoyok Pujiono in Trenggalek, East Java, on Oct. 2, 2022. The officer was among at least 131 people who died during post-match clashes between fans and security officials at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang a day earlier. (Antara Photo)
Friends and family members pray at the grave of police officer Fajar Yoyok Pujiono in Trenggalek, East Java, on Oct. 2, 2022. The officer was among at least 131 people who died during post-match clashes between fans and security officials at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang a day earlier. (Antara Photo)

In the wake of the incident, President Jokowi called FIFA President Gianni Infantino to seek help from the world football governing body to improve the quality of Indonesian football stadiums.

Jokowi said they also discussed about next year’s U-20 World Cup to be hosted by Indonesia, adding that it’s up to FIFA whether the event will still take place in the football-loving nation.

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