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Malaga: The death toll from panic at an Indonesian football match has risen to 174, most of whom were killed after police fired tear gas to spark riots, making it one of the sporting events deadliest in the world. became one. Riots broke out after the game ended on Saturday night with hosts Arema FC of Malang City in East Java losing 3-2 to Persebaya of Surabaya.

Frustrated after their team’s defeat, thousands of Arema supporters, known as “Armenias”, reacted by throwing bottles and other objects at players and football officials. Witnesses said fans flooded the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in protest and demanded Arema’s management explain why the match ended in defeat after 23 years of unbeaten home games.

The riot broke out outside the stadium where at least five police vehicles were overturned and set on fire amid the chaos. Riot police fired tear gas canisters at the stadium stands, causing panic in the crowd. Tear gas is banned in football stadiums by FIFA.

Hundreds of people rushed for the exit trying to escape the tear gas, some suffocated and others crushed. In the chaos, 34 people died at the stadium, including two officers, and according to some reports children were among the victims.

READ ALSO: At least 127 killed in mass riots at football match in Indonesia

East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta told a press conference early Sunday, “We have already taken a preventive measure before firing tear gas as (fans) started to attack the police, acted lawlessly and burned vehicles”.

Afinta said more than 300 people were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated for injuries, but many died en route and during treatment. East Java Deputy Governor Emil Dardak told Kompas TV in an interview on Sunday that the death toll had risen to 174, while more than 100 of the injured were receiving free intensive care at eight hospitals, including 11. L condition is serious.

The Indonesian football federation, known as PSSI, has suspended the premier football league Liga 1 indefinitely in light of the tragedy and banned Arema from hosting football matches for the rest of the season. East. Television reports showed police and paramedics evacuating the injured and transporting the dead to ambulances.

The bereaved relatives were awaiting information from their loved ones at Saiful Anwar General Hospital in Malang. Others attempted to identify the bodies kept in the morgue. Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his deepest condolences to the dead in his televised remarks on Sunday.

“I am deeply sorry for this tragedy and hope this is the last football tragedy in this country, don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Widodo said. “We must continue to uphold the sportsmanship, humanity and brotherhood of the Indonesian nation.”

He ordered the Minister of Youth and Sports, the National Police Chief and the President of the PSSI to carry out a thorough assessment of the country’s football game and its security process. He also ordered the PSSI to temporarily suspend La Liga 1 until it can be assessed and security procedures improved.

Youth and Sports Minister Zainuddin Amli also regretted that “the tragedy happened while we were preparing for football sports activities at national and international level”. Indonesia will host the 2023 FIFA Under-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11, with 24 teams participating. As hosts, the country automatically qualifies for the cup.

“Unfortunately, this incident has definitely damaged our football image,” Amalie said. Malang local police chief Ferli Hidayat said Saturday’s match drew around 42,000 spectators, all of them Armenians, as the organizer banned Persebaya fans from entering the stadium to avoid controversy .

The ban was imposed after clashes between fans of two rival football teams at Blitar Stadium in East Java in February 2020, resulting in a total loss of 250 million rupees ($18,000). Controversy was reported outside the stadium during and after the East Java Governors Cup semi-final match, which Persebaya ended with a 4–2 win over Arema.

Despite Indonesia’s lack of international recognition in sport, hooliganism remains rampant in the football-obsessed country, where bigotry often ends in violence, such as in the 2018 death of a Persia Jakarta fan. who was sacked by fanatics from rival club Farsib Bandung. The crowd of fans was spellbound. in 2018.

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Saturday’s match is already one of the world’s worst crowd disasters, including the 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City, where more than 80 people were killed and more 100 injured. Were. In April 2001, more than 40 people were crushed to death during a football match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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