Indonesian soccer riot kills more than 120 as spectators are crushed in a stampede at the stadium

At least 129 people were killed and around 180 injured at a soccer match in Indonesia after a crowd rallied during a riot in one of the deadliest sports-related incidents.

As supporters of lost home team Arema stormed the pitch in East Java province on Saturday night to express their frustration, officials fired tear gas to try to bring the situation under control.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Footage of football tragedy in East Java emerges.

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A stampede was sparked that left many dead from asphyxiation, East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta told reporters.

“It had become anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” he said, adding that the rush happened as fans fled to an exit gate.

“We regret and regret the tragedy.”

Video footage from local news channels showed fans pouring onto the pitch at the stadium in Malang after Arema lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya.

An injured man is carried in clashes during a football match at Malang’s Kanjuruhan Stadium. Recognition: Yudha Prabowo/AP

Brawls were seen, with what appeared to be tear gas in the air.

Images showed people who appeared to have lost consciousness and were being carried away by fellow fans.

The world football association FIFA stipulates in its safety regulations that neither firearms nor “crowd control gas” may be carried or used by stewards or police officers.

East Java Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they were aware of such regulations.

Indonesia’s human rights commission planned to probe security on the ground, including the use of tear gas, its commissioner told Reuters.

Police officers and soldiers stand amidst smoke of tear gas during a football match at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Recognition: Yudha Prabowo/AP

The country’s top security minister, Mahfud MD, said in an Instagram post the stadium had been filled beyond its capacity.

He claimed 42,000 tickets had been issued for a stadium designed to only hold 38,000 people.

Problems have sporadically erupted at matches in Indonesia, with intense rivalries between clubs sometimes leading to violence among fans.

Officials examine a damaged police vehicle following a clash between supporters of two Indonesian soccer teams. Recognition: Yudha Prabowo/AP
Fans enter the field at Kanjuruhan Stadium. Recognition: Yudha Prabowo/AP

Zainudin Amali, Indonesia’s sports minister, told KompasTV the ministry will reassess security at matches, including considering not allowing spectators into stadiums.

Indonesia’s top flight BRI Liga 1 has suspended matches for a week and launched an investigation, the Indonesian Football Association said.

Indonesia is set to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May and June next year.

It is also one of three countries bidding to host next year’s Asian Cup after China withdrew as hosts.

Stadium disasters in the last 40 years

After at least 129 people died in a stampede at a soccer match in Indonesia’s East Java province, here’s a look at some of the other major soccer stadium disasters over the past 40 years.

Cameroon 2002

At least eight people died and 38 were injured in a stampede at Yaounde Olembe Stadium in Cameroon ahead of the host country’s Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 match against Comoros.

Egypt 2012

Fans rioted at the end of a game between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly in the city of Port Said. At least 73 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured. The Egyptian league was then suspended for two years.

Ivory Coast 2009

At least 19 people were killed in a stampede at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Malawi.

Ghana 2001

More than 125 people were killed in a stampede at Accra’s main stadium when police fired tear gas at rioting fans in one of Africa’s worst football disasters.

South Africa 2001

At least 43 people were crushed to death when fans tried to enter Johannesburg’s massive Ellis Park stadium in the middle of a South African league game.

Guatemala 1996

Up to 82 people died and at least 147 were injured when an avalanche of fans fell seats and down a flight of stairs at a World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica.

France 1992

A stand at Bastia’s Furiani stadium collapsed ahead of a French Cup semifinal match against Marseille, killing 18 and injuring more than 2,300. Last year, the French parliament passed a law banning professional gaming on May 5, in memory of the victims.

South Africa 1991

42 people died in a stampede during a pre-season game at Oppenheimer Stadium in the mining town of Orkney between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. A Pirates fan had attacked Chiefs supporters in the crowd with a knife.

Great Britain 1989

96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in a crowded and fenced-off corral at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield ahead of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. One victim died in July 2021, 32 years after suffering severe brain damage in the incident.

Nepal 1988

More than 90 fans died in a rush to closed exits during a hailstorm at Nepal’s national soccer stadium in Kathmandu.

Belgium 1985

Ahead of the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, 39 fans died and more than 600 were injured.

England 1985

At least 56 people were killed and more than 200 injured when fire broke out in the stands at Bradford’s Valley Parade Stadium during a third division game against Lincoln City.

Soviet Union 1982

Fans were devastated as they exited a UEFA Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Dutch club HFC Haarlem at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Officials from the former Soviet Union have not disclosed the tragedy for years. When they did so, they gave an official death toll of 66, although it is widely believed that the number of those who died at an exit in a scrum could be as high as 340.

Gold Coast graffiti artists spray paint on a railroad worker’s face.

Gold Coast graffiti artists spray paint on a railroad worker’s face. Indonesian soccer riot kills more than 120 as spectators are crushed in a stampede at the stadium

James Brien

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