Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday said that he would order an audit of all soccer stadiums in the country, vowing to find the “root” cause of one of the deadliest disasters in the sport’s history.
Widodo was in the city of Malang to visit relatives of the victims and talk to the wounded at a hospital, and to see the stadium where a stampede killed at least 131 people on Saturday.
“I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy, so that we can get the best solution,” he said.
Photo: AFP / Indonesian Presidential Palace
“I will order the public works minister to audit all stadiums used for the [soccer] league,” he said outside the Saiful Anwar hospital in Malang, adding that he had spoken to FIFA’s president the night before about improving Indonesia’s soccer management.
He entered the hospital to speak with several of the wounded, saying he told them to “stay spirited.”
He then planned to travel to Kanjuruhan Stadium, the scene of the disaster on Saturday evening, an official from the presidential office said.
The Indonesian leader’s visit came as anger grew over police officers’ response to a pitch invasion after Arema supporters tried to approach players following their defeat to rivals Persebaya Surabaya.
Police described the incident as a riot and said that two officers were killed, but survivors accused them of overreacting.
Officers responded to the pitch invasion with force, kicking and hitting supporters with batons, according to witnesses and video footage.
They pushed supporters back into the stands where many were trampled or suffocated to death after tear gas was fired.
In response to the tragedy, Widodo ordered all matches suspended, an investigation into what happened and compensation for victims.
The investigation was focusing on six gates at the stadium using CCTV footage from cameras placed outside them, police said, adding that the exits were open, but too small for the crowds attempting to pass through them.
However, Indonesia’s soccer association spokesperson on Tuesday said some gates that should have been opened 10 minutes before the final whistle remained closed.
They stayed shut “because of late commands” and officers “had not arrived,” he told a news conference.
The Malang police chief was replaced on Monday, nine officers were suspended and 19 others were put under investigation over the disaster in the stadium, police said.
Indonesia’s soccer association also moved on Tuesday to sanction Arema, banning its organizing committee chairman and a security officer from soccer for life and fining the club 250 million rupiah (US$16,448).
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