Statement from the Bonek Writers Forum on the Kanjuruhan Tragedy

This article was first published at Sejarah Persebaya. Translated by Andy Fuller*

The Kanjuruhan Tragedy which happened during the Arema FC vs Persebaya game which has resulted in the death of 127 people (at the time of writing) is deeply concerning. The event was triggered when the police fired tear gas into the grandstands when some fans were starting to cause trouble. This is not the first time this has happened. Many other fans have already died at stadiums for various reasons.

The Bonek Writers Forum (BWF) urges all stakeholders to focus on solving the problems within Indonesian football. Stopping the league is one step, but let’s not forget the root of the problem. There are no regulations in place which could prevent such a situation from happening again.

The BWF states its deepest sympathies for the supporters and security personnel who have died. The BWF issues these recommendations so that such an event doesn’t happen again:

  1. Urges the Parliament (DPR RI) to form a special committee to investigate this tragedy.
  2. Urgest the government and the DPR to form a ‘Supporters’ Constitution’ as in the case of England after the Hillsborough tragedy.
  3. Demand that the Indonesian Football Federation take responsibility for the deaths of fans in stadiums as this has happened repeatedly.
  4. Standardise the security procedures across football stadiums.
  5. Forbid the use of tear gas, as is the rules from FIFA, as a means to overcome riots in a stadium.
  6. Announcers to have the responsibility of stating where the evacuation points are in the case of a riot.
  7. Stadiums must be ‘all seater stadiums’. To forbid the ‘terrace stand’ stadiums. This is important so that it is possible to limit the number of fans in a stadium.
  8. To have 5% tickets left-over so that the stadiums are not sold out to capacity. This would make evacuation easier.
  9. Games to be held in the afternoon or without supporters to avoid the possibility of riots.
  10. Games to be held at 7pm at the latest based on the fact that there is little public transport in Indonesia after this time.
  11. The referee must stop a game when there are racist or other kinds of provocative chants from supporters, such as those which encourage others to kill other supporters or players.

These are the recommendations from the BWF. Hopefully the stakeholders of football in Indonesia can focus to solve the problems which cause such tragedies as the Kanjuruhan Tragedy. No football game is equal to that of a person’s life.

*founder of Reading Sideways and Reading Sideways Press. Researcher of football and sporting cultures in Indonesia (and elsewhere). Currently based at Utrecht University.

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