The Passion of the Fans

**This page is under-construction :) 

Indonesian football fans are easily characterised as being passionate. The passion of the fans both fuels and damages the  rise of football in Indonesia. Football fandom is expressed for so many different kinds of football: the local leagues, international games played by the Garudas or the Garuda Mudas (Young Garudas), adopted national teams that participate in the World Cup or European Championships or of course, teams that participate in the top European leagues. The passion of fans is expressed through the artful choreographies and displays at games and through the brutal violence which may unfold in the stands, on the pitch – through attacking players or the referees, or on inter-city highways. Some fans are particularly mindful of the groups they belong to. Some of the main groupings beind defined as ultras, casuals or hooligans (Fuller and Junaedi 2017).

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 2.47.17 pmPeter Withe (left), a former national coach of the Garudas, lamented the negative impact of poor behaviour from fans and regarded it as yet another complicating factor causing the slow development of the nation’s footballing progress (“Perilaku Suporter: Belajar Menjadi Pendukung Yang Baik”, 8th January 2007, Kompas, p.8). While the violent behaviour of fans often attracts significant media attention; the context for the violence is rarely given in detail. I argue that rather than Indonesian soccer fans being inherently violent, that the violence is largely a direct outcome of numerous layers of corruption, mismanagement and the lack of appropriate infrastructure – both administrative and physical.

The passion of fans stimulates my interest in the game, while also being indicative of the ongoing creation of a stable football culture. Fans are empowered: they feel they have a strong role to play in the creation of the game. This sense of empowerment, however, is regularly expressed violently and is evidence of general distrust in the PSSI at its many levels.

** Fan Protests; Aremania; Asian Champions League

Fan protests to the governing body are commonplace. The degree of activism amongst fans is something that is shared: despite their ongoing rivalries. Fan groups broadly sense a feeling of injustice imposed against them or their clubs.

Fan demands are stated with the utmost gravity. Football matters are not a matter of peripheral entertainment, but rather symbolic of a struggle for justice, equality and fairness. As stated by one of Aremania’s spokesman’s, “through our mass protest, we will implore the PSSI, KONI [Komite Olahraga Nasional Indonesia], the Menpora [Sports Minister], and if necessary President Yudhoyono to ensure that whoever is responsible for Arema’s failure to participate in the ACL [Asian Champions League] will be held accountable.” [“Kasus Arema”, 1st March 2006, Kompas, p.31). The failure of Arema and Persipura to partiicipate in the ACL was based on the lateness of their documents being sent to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation).

Reading Sideways