Hooliganism still haunts Indonesian soccer

The country is set to host the U-20 FIFA soccer world cup in May at six different venues across the country, and has officially announced its bid to host the 2036 Olympics.

Dio Suhenda

Dio Suhenda

The Jakarta Post


This picture taken on Oct. 1, 2022 shows security personnel on the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java. (AFP/STR)

February 3, 2023

JAKARTA – Vandalism and clashes by soccer fans over the past few days have once again put the issue of hooliganism at the forefront of Indonesian soccer, despite it being under the international spotlight following the deadly stadium stampede in October and ahead of hosting the youth world cup in May.

Following a top-flight Liga 1 match between home team Persita Tangerang and East Java’s Persis Solo on Saturday, footage emerged on social media of a group of Persita supporters throwing rocks at the visiting team bus, as it made its way onto the Panunggangan toll gate, in Tangerang, Banten.

Persis’ official statement said that the attack broke the bus windshield and a club official also suffered minor injuries.

The assault gained national attention after Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming, son of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and a brother of Kaesang Pangarep, who owns a majority stake in Persis, called out National Police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo on Twitter.

“Incidents like throwing [stones] against a [team] bus will keep on happening. This has been the result of the lack of firm action taken against [those who] incited riots at Kanjuruhan Stadium,” Gibran said, referring to the deadly stampede in Malang, East Java on Oct.1, 2022.

But, other footage also emerged on social media, showing some Persis club officials and players disembarking from the bus to chase after and assault the Persita supporters who threw the rocks.

“Please investigate if our players did anything wrong. If so, I apologize. We need to be fair. Whether it’s a problem or not, let the police chief and his staff decide,” Gibran said on Monday, as quoted by Kompas.id.

Tangerang Police detained and named seven suspects on Monday. They have been charged under Article 170 of the Criminal Code on violent assault and property damage, which carries a maximum sentence of five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

In Malang, a protest staged by fans of local club Arema FC demanding justice for the Kanjuruhan victims on Sunday descended into violence, resulting in at least two club officials and another civilian being injured and the club’s office heavily damaged.

“[The club’s] management is always open for dialogue, the office is always open, we always accept complaints from Aremania [the club’s fan base]. We are open for dialogue, but not by destroying our home,” Tatang Dwi Arifianto, the club’s commissioner, said in a statement on Sunday.

With the club already on thin ice following the Kanjuruhan tragedy, Sunday’s riot has prompted the club owners to consider disbanding it, Tatang said.

“Of course we will respond to [Sunday’s] incident. The board of directors and management got together and discussed what the next steps would look like […] But, if [people] feel like Arema FC is not conducive, [we] will need to reconsider the existence of the club,” he said on Monday.

Following the Kanjuruhan stampede, which was prompted by police use of tear gas despite it being banned by world soccer authority FIFA, the government has looked to usher in changes to Indonesian soccer, including new police guidelines for safeguarding matches.

The country is set to host the U-20 FIFA soccer world cup in May at six different venues across the country, and has officially announced its bid to host the 2036 Olympics.

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