PSIM, a football club based in Yogyakarta and founded in 1929, has seen better years. The club is well and truly in the second tier of the domestic competition and suffers from poor management and fan violence. The violence not only occurs between fans of rival clubs but also between the two main supporter groups of PSIM – the Brajamusti and The Maident.The latter of which was founded only in 2009. The Brajamusti are particularly active in travelling to and from games in large motorcycle convoys; these are often tense moments in which conflicts break out. Violence would break out in the stadium as well as on the streets of Yogyakarta. Flags and murals indicate which kampung belongs to which supporter group.
Brajamusti making murals
But, there might be some hope for the club. With half of their stadium, the Mandala Krida, being closed off due to renovations, Brajamusti and The Maident have reconciled and mobilised themselves to be more organised in the their support for PSIM and attendance of their games. The recently held friendly, warm up games have earned the club Rp.100million ($10,000) per game. In the previous season, the club was barely covering costs, earning as little as Rp.50million per game. This low figure being partly due to small attendances and also due to not all fans actually paying for tickets. This year, there are now official jerseys being sold; previously, there was no official outlet for PSIM merchandise. PSIM jerseys etc were home-made by the different factions of the supporter groups – most of which is poor quality. PSIM supporters would commonly wear paraphernalia indicating their supporter-group allegiance, rather than indicating their support for PSIM.
The Brajamusti supporter group held its election for a new president in February 2015. One of the candidates was a man named Rolly. The other was Mamex – who turned out to be the eventual winner. I was in Yogya during the lead up to the election, but, by the time of the election I was in The Netherlands and had become a little disconnected with Brajamusti-PSIM politics. I met (Mas) Rolly through Dimaz Maulana, founder of Bawah Skor and O.B.A., an alternative football-arts space in Yogyakarta. Dimaz was working with Adnan D. Kusuma of punk band D.O.M. 65 in the promotion of Rolly as Brajamusti presidential candidate.
Adnan, Dimaz, Rolly
Adnan has lots of street-cred within the football (PSIM) and Yogyakarta arts community. He is the renowned front-man of the aforementioned ban and he is respected for his wildness, drinking and toughness. Adnan grew up and lives in the neighbourhood of the Mandala Krida Stadium, home to PSIM. He feels a strong connection to the Club and its main supporter group, the Brajamusti, even if he claims not be officially a member of Brajamusti. Indeed, being a part of Brajamusti requires no official membership. It is a kind of gang, a brotherhood. Adnan is one of its elders; someone who can shape its culture and politics. Throughout the campaign he used his skills as a musician and vocalist to produce new chants for the upcoming Divisi Utama season.
Legendary punk rocker Adnan
Dimaz, much younger than Adnan, is establishing a reputation for himself as a diligent and creative PSIM-activist and football-activist in general. He has produced the jerseys for PSIM’s pre-season games, he has had a residency at Lir alternative arts space in northern Yogyakarta. As a day job he works for Cemeti Art House in the south of Yogya. Dimaz regularly speaks at discussions on maintaining team-focused websites, creating archives. OBA, the name of his football-arts space, sells PSIM-related merchandise. The opportunity to collaborate directly with a potential-Brajamusti president no doubt clearly presented Dimaz with the chance to reach a new audience and degree of influence amongst PSIM supporters. With his and Adnan’s involvement there was a great chance for re-branding the Brajamusti as a more creative, artistic and somewhat educated supporter group. Until now, Brajamusti supporters are known to be violent, uncontrollable and provocative. They have ongoing clashes with the Pasoepati from Solo and with the other supporter group of PSIM, The Maident.
Dimaz, left, interviewing ex-PSIM goalkeeper, Mas Erry
Rolly, their candidate of choice, has a well-known reputation for violence. He is one of Brajamusti tough guys. Dimaz told me that he himself had seen Rolly in action and that his reputation for violence was justified. Whenever I met Rolly he was always polite. He always made his time available whenever I asked for the opportunity to talk. He never denied his violence, but nor did he make specific reference to any of his violent acts. He told me he had been accused of a killing, but he said that he had witnesses who could prove that it wasn’t him. Rolly stated that there was an agreement amongst football fans that violence is a part of the culture of supporting a team. Indeed, Rolly’s service to both Brajamusti and PSIM went beyond the usual acts of fandom. He would find jobs for players, he would be a part of their negotiations for employment; he would sanction their departure from the team. Rolly was not an outsider to PSIM, but, a part of the many different layers of its everyday management. He is known to the players and respected and feared by many of the younger Brajamusti supporters.
Throughout Rolly’s Brajamusti presidential campaign, one of his strengths that was frequently highlighted was his organisational experience in Gerakan Pemuda Kabah and Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, a conservative Islamic party. This was to show that he wasn’t just a tough guy, but he knew how to lead as well. I was familiar with GPK and PPP for their role in anti-Ahmadiyah stance during the past decade. I asked him if he was involved in any way in the negotiation between mainstream Muslims and Ahmadiyah followers, who are widely considered as apostates and grave sinners. Rolly told me that he indeed had mobilised his masses to protest against the practicing of Ahmadiyah beliefs in Yogyakarta. He was successful in disbanding their worship. I asked him if there was any violence; he replied, ‘no, fortunately not. We were lucky we didn’t have to resort to that. They complied with our demands.’
The Brajamusti supporter group has a reach of thousands – perhaps more than 10,000. It is in intense and violent conflict with The Maident, a supporter group aligned with the democratic nationalist party, PDI-P and with Pasoepati supporters from Solo, whom they routinely attack whenever they pass through the city. This year’s presidential election presented the irregular opportunity for a meeting point for the interests of a punk musician, a studious archivist and a well-groomed and polite and tough-man with ambitions of Islamic social-organisation (ormas) leadership. Football in Yogyakarta, is nothing if not political and heavily contested; it is a means for furthering one’s career, name and position. Being a supporter presents an opportunity for business, creativity and establishing one’s name. And then, on the side, a game of two halves, two teams and a ball is played for 90minutes.
Brajamusti on parade
*I co-authored The Struggle for Soccer in Indonesia with Dimaz Maulana (Yogyakarta: Tan Kinira Press, 2014). Dimaz, along with Fajar Junaedi, were my chief informants and educators on the politics of football culture in Indonesia. Adnan D Kusuma always made a critical intervention whenever we had a conversation. I was not close with Rolly, but he appreciated the interest I took in him. He was always straightforward with me.
Dimaz Maulana, Bawah Skor.
Adnan D. Kusuma, D.O.M. 65.