Football team merchandise is a necessary means for creating a club’s image and subculture. It’s attractive for youth and stakes a claim for difference from the mainstream. The styles of the t-shirts also provide a link with the pop cultures of music and other football teams. Through the posing of the amateur models, an anthropologist could construct an inventory of gestures. Persis Solo, a team in Indonesia’s second division Divisi Utama (The Main Division), was founded in 1923 as Vorstenlandschen Voetbal Bond and became Persis Solo in 1928.
T-Shirt Slogans: Pasoepati: Mengalir Sampai Jauh (Flowing Along Way); Persis Solo: Laskar Sambar Nyawa; Pasoepati: Edan Tapi Mapan, Mengalir Sampai Jauh, Since 2000 (Crazy but Established, Flowing Along Way); Persis: Satu Persis Solo, Satu Pasoepati, 1923 (One Persis Solo, One Pasoepati); Persis Till I Die; From Solo With Love, Pasoepati.net; Aku Kamu Kita Pasoepati Selamanya (Me, You, Us, Pasoepati Forever); Come and Conquer: Away Days
As Persis Solo enter the Manahan Stadium, their fans – known as Pasoepati, chant their anthem: Satu Jiwa. The song is by a band known as The Working Class Symphony – a band based in Solo that plays music in the ‘folk punk’ and ‘oi’ style. “Rayakanlah pertemuan ini, selalu bersama apapun yang terjadi. Singkirkan semua yang mengganggumu, kitakan tetap bersatu”. “Celebrate this occasion, always be together, whatever happens, Remove all that disturbs you, we shall remain united”. The song implores loyalty and resilience: qualities needed by football fans of any team, let alone those of a team that have suffered a relegation, despite having a long history and representing a proud city. That the fan group uses a song in the style of Irish folk punk shows the globalisation of popular culture and a willingness to integrate the global into national and regional cultures. The working class fans of Persis Solo identify with the working class abroad, whatever their differences.
Playing against Persip Pekalongan (another team from central Java), Persis Solo frequently lobbed in long balls and crosses. The pitch was bathed in late afternoon sun. The crowd was dense at the centre of the pitch, but, increasingly grew thin at its corners, only for another dense crowd to be found behind the goals: it was here that fans were again packed tightly together, chanting and singing and waving their red, black and white flags. The pitch looked in good nick and the fans chanted throughout the match, regardless of the dips and falls in action. Nurul Subhki, Pekalongan’s goal keeper managed to keep out many shots on his goal – headers, bicycle kicks and shots from close range – but, couldn’t manage to keep out a penalty struck in the 90th minute, despite having dived the right way. Such is a goal keeper’s fate. Marcelo Cirelli put away the penalty that had been awarded to Persis after Tinton had been brought down in the box. The penalty was protested fiercely while Persis’s fans celebrated in the stands, as if their team had already scored a goal. Horns blazed and the previously united chanting broke up into shouts of celebration and abuse of Pekalongan’s players.
The experience of watching Persis Solo and the exploits of their fans – Pasoepati – shows so much of the vibrancy of Indonesian football. Even a quick encounter shows the carnivalesque nature of football in Indonesia. This is made up of parades, singing, chanting, the writing of songs, the production of merchandise, the writing of blogs, the creation of fan sites, the continual uploading to social media websites and apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. For me this is an expression of the Bakhtinian notion of polyvocality and carnival. That is, a plurality of voices, intermingling and contesting authority. And secondly, a rupture against silence which may dissolve into violence; a party that enjoys noise, keramaian (busy-ness) and being amongst the mob, the crowd and a tenuously created togetherness. It is a little too easy to regard the practices of Pasoepati as being entirely derivative of ultra football culture. My impression is that the Pasoepati respond to their immediate context and develop their own practices of fan culture. Nonetheless, the typography used in banners, the slogans in English, the aesthetics of the performances at games clearly borrows and draws on the main vocabulary of ultra-fandom practices.
Chants of Pasoepati are available here on Fanchants.com