Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions

Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management

Relevance: Indonesia’s football stampede and concerns associated with it

News: The crowd at Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium ran onto the pitch after their team lost. This led to a stampede and around 125 people lost their lives.

Police used tear gas to control the crowd which led to low visibility leading to chaos. It will be counted as one of the darkest days in football.

What is the reason for such accidents?

One of the reasons for such an accident is the emotions of spectators with the team.

The spectators are often attached to the team they support and at times this attachment leads to accidents. There are also commercial and political interests involved in it.

However, using tear gas cannot control the spectators’ feelings.

When tear gases are used and why should it not be used in the stadiums?

Tear gases are used to bring order when violence goes beyond control and descends into riots and there is little thought for public safety.

FIFA prohibits the use ‘firearms’ or ‘crowd control gas’ to maintain order at a game.

Stadiums are regulated and closed spaces and using firearms or tear gas for crowd control would only result in chaos and threats to public safety.

Therefore, the authorities who have justified the use of tear gas must be held accountable in Indonesia.

Moreover, the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights is planning to investigate the matter.

What has caused past sport accidents?

This accident is reminder of other crowd-related tragedies such as the deaths of eight people during the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2022, death of 97 Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough in Yorkshire, England in 1989, etc.

The deaths in these games were the result of police incompetence and crowd control failure.

What are the lessons learnt from this stampede?

First, the stadium had only one entry/exit point. Therefore, the stadium must be provided with multiple entry/exit points.

Second, there is a need to barricade players at the end of the match to prevent anyone entering the field.

Third, fans will need to be calmed and police will need to be trained to handle any eventuality with sensitivity and care.

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