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Indonesian football league resumes after stadium disaster

Featured image credit: Nick Agus Arya on Unsplash

Indonesian club football resumed behind closed doors yesterday (Monday), two months after more than 130 people died during a stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang.

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) temporarily suspended the league season following the disaster, which occurred on October 1 as Arema FC faced Persebaya Surabaya.

The first league games since the disaster took place yesterday, with wreaths laid before kick-off as a mark of respect to those who died. Games included Madura United vs PSIS, Bhayangkara FC vs PS Slemen, PSM Makassar vs Persikabo 1973, and Persita vs Bali United.

Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD said before yesterday’s games that the football season would be completed, albeit behind closed doors. The PSSI has thanked the national government for allowing the season to resume.

The stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium occurred as fans invaded the pitch before being met with teargas from police. The ensuing panic led to fans rushing towards the stadium’s exits, which caused a crush.

Following the disaster, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the stadium would be demolished and rebuilt. The stadium will be rebuilt according to FIFA standards as part of plans to “thoroughly transform” Indonesian football.

With the support of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, the PSSI has set up a taskforce to increase public security capacity following the disaster. In the days following the incident, Widodo also ordered an audit of all football stadiums in the country, while six people were charged.

Indonesia is due to host the FIFA U20 World Cup next year and FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said the tournament will go ahead as scheduled.