At least 125 are dead after a football game stampede in Indonesia

At least 125 are dead after a football game stampede in Indonesia
Fans invade the soccer field after a match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang, Indonesia Oct 2, 2022 in this screen grab taken from a REUTERS video. REUTERS TV via REUTERS

On Saturday night, at least 125 people were killed during a crowd rush at a football game in Malang, Indonesia. The whole thing started when fans flooded the football pitch to riot after the home team lost to their rivals, and police then shot tear gas into the crowd. This forced everyone to try to escape the stadium, which was when people were crushed and unable to breathe.

This kind of event isn’t unprecedented; football stadium disasters like this one have been happening for a long time, like in 1989 during a Liverpool game that killed nearly a hundred people. And only last year, 10 people died at a Travis Scott concert in Houston after a crowd surge during the concert.

Still, this is one of the worst sports disasters to date and points to the need for safety precautions at mass gatherings like these. Already, FIFA, an international governing body of football, says that tear gas should not be used at matches. So now, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has suspended all other football games until a full investigation is conducted.

Key comments:

Arema football club supporters lights candles during a vigil outside the Kanjuruhan stadium to pay condolence to the victims, of a stampede following a soccer match between Arema vs Persebaya outside in Malang, East Java province, Indonesia, October 2, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars," said East Java’s police chief Nico Afinta. He added, “They went out to one point at the exit, then there was a buildup – in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen."

“Many of our friends lost their lives because of the officers who dehumanised us," said Muhammad Rian Dwicahyono at the local Kanjuruhan hospital. “Many lives have been wasted."

“This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement. “I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident."