Indonesia sets up team to probe soccer stampede; police use of tear gas in focus

Police and sport officials have been sent to Malang to investigate what is one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters. President Joko Widodo ordered the football association to suspend all Liga 1 matches until the investigation is completed.

In 1964, 328 people were killed in a crush when Peru hosted Argentina at the Estadio Nacional in Lima.

In a 1989 British disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death when an overcrowded and fenced-in enclosure collapsed at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

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Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD said the government would form an independent fact-finding team, including academics and soccer experts as well as government officials, to probe what happened.

The team will investigate for the next few weeks with the aim of finding out who was responsible for the tragedy, he said.

Image: INDONESIA-FBL-UNREST-STAMPEDE
At least 125 people were killed in one of the deadliest disasters in the history of soccer. Juni Kriswanto / AFP – Getty Images

Violence and hooliganism have long been features of Indonesian football, especially in places such as Jakarta, the capital, but the scale of Saturday’s disaster in this town in Java has left the small community numb.

Indonesian daily Koran Tempo ran a black front page on Monday, centred on the words “Our Football Tragedy” printed in red along with a list of the dead.

Home side Arema FC had lost the match 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, though authorities had said tickets were not issued to Persebaya fans over security concerns.

Mahfud said on Sunday the stadium had been filled beyond capacity. Some 42,000 tickets had been issued for a stadium designed to hold 38,000 people, he said.

A tearful Arema FC president Gilang Widya Pramana apologised on Monday to the victims of the stampede and said he took full responsibility.

“Lives are more precious than soccer,” he told a news conference.

In an address on Sunday, Pope Francis said he had prayed for those who have lost their lives and for the injured from the disaster.

FIFA, which called incident a “dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension”, has asked Indonesian football authorities for a report on the incident.

source: nbcnews.com