Last night, over 170 people were killed in a football game in Indonesia, making it the second largest football disaster in history. The math between Arema and Persebaya Surabaya, ended in the loss of the home team Persebaya, and around as a result, 500 fans broke into the field in frustration for the poor performance of the team.
In response, the police immediately used tear gas and sound and smoke grenades to disperse the crowd.
This led to panic, including in the stands, and the tens of thousands of fans attempted to escape the scene as a result of the masses, people were trampled on. Indonesia’s football league had said games would be suspended for a week. However, the Indonesian government has ordered all matches to be postponed until the investigation is concluded.
The disaster was the result of several security failures. First, the investigation must understand how 500 were able to enter the field before there is a response. Then the investigation must examine the police’s actions and the proportionality of their actions to the problem at hand. 500 fans indeed impose a threat to the players on the field as well as the staff of both teams and the referees. However, to “ensure the safety” of a few, and instead of taking measures that would have taken longer to reach all the fans that have broke into the field, and escort the two teams out of the stadium, the police immediately used tear gas that put at risk over 40,000 fans in the stands.
Unfortunately, this is not the first case of its kind. The largest disaster in history happened in Peru as similarly, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd which resulted in the death of 328 people. The same is true of the Hillsborough disaster in England in which the police not only failed to act accordingly but also put the blame on the Liverpool FC fans. It took almost 30 years for the investigation to admit that the failures and the death were the results of the actions taken by the police rather than the actions of the fans themselves.
This is another reminder that the beautiful game must be protected and organized, otherwise, it can be the place of a disaster. Hopefully, lessons will be learned this time, and police forces dealing with football matches across the world must learn from former mistakes, as they have been repeated far too many times, to ensure that sister of its kind.