By: Cameron Andrade
At least 125 fans were killed after a riot broke out in an Indonesian League soccer match between Persebaya Surabaya and Arema on Saturday, Oct.1. It is one of the deadliest sporting events in history.
The riots broke out after Persebaya Surabaya defeated their rivals Arema 3-2 on their home ground for the first time in 23 years. This would create an uproar from the Arema fans, causing the fans to invade the pitch while throwing various objects at the players and officials.
Police fired tear gas into the crowd, striking a sense of panic into the loaded crowd. Many fans were suffocated or trampled upon from the hundreds of fans attempting to escape the chemical in the stadium.
“This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident.” said Gianni Infantino, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) president.
Violence spread to outside the stadium, where multiple police cars would be tipped over and set ablaze as the fans continued to riot the streets outside the stadium. Multiple witnesses claim the police beat the rioters with their sticks and shields and that the rioters would attempt to fight back against the police.
The latest number of injured has been updated to 323 people. This could cause the death toll to rise from 125. The victims included fans, police officers, and multiple children aged from three to 17 years old.
The blame for the tragedy has been pointed towards the police who began to throw tear gas into the stands, causing fans to begin a stampede. Tear gas is banned by the governing body of FIFA from being used at stadiums.
Nico Afinta, the East Java Police Chief, defended his officers’ use of tear gas around the stadium in a press conference held after the traffic event, as the reason was “because there was anarchy.”
“They were about to attack the officers and had damaged the cars.” said Afinta
The event has shocked many soccer fans from across the world as the news spread through the soccer community, many have been saddened by the news.