The Cikampek Toll Road was closed in the lead up to the Persib – Persija football match as a result of a confrontation between Persija fans (known as Jakmania) with the police. Some of the Jakmania fans damaged vehicles and looted their contents – reports say. The game was halted several times due to crowd violence: some of the Persija players had objects thrown at them. The SCTV reports showed footage of the match looking more like a riot scene than a football game. In recent years games between the two clubs have been played at neutral venues in order to diminish the possibilities of crowd violence. The relative proximity between the two cities of Bandung and Jakarta intensifies the possibility for crowd violence and attendance of Persija fans in Bandung. Jakartans make day trips to Bandung for shopping and other leisure activities: crowding the already crowded streets, almost turning this once pleasant hillish city into an outlying suburb of Jakarta. Cars with the number plate of ‘B’ – indicating registration in Jakarta – have been targeted in Bandung by Persib supports (Viking or Bobotoh) regardless of whether or not the car owners indicate their support for Persija.
Ultras and hooligans exist on a spectrum of fandom and dedication to a football team. In the contexts of English soccer, hooligans are associated with violence, extreme machoness, right-wing politics, racism. Hooliganism is of course not limited to England but is a part of footballing cultures throughout the world – including Indonesia, in one way or another. Soccer hooliganism occurs during the rivalries of Persebaya-Arema, PSS Sleman-PSIM, and of course other matches. The Bonek fans of Persebaya are feared and famous for their violence: something which is played up by newspaper and tv coverage. The same applies for the violence between Jakmania and Bobotoh or Viking. Nonetheless, fans do end up with injuries; fans do bring weapons to games. The violence happens; how it happens and why it happens is less clear. There is yet to be a scholarly analysis of soccer related violence in Indonesia.
Writing in the Spanish context, Spaaij and Vinas state, “an ultras is more than an ordinary spectator; it is someone who unconditionally supports the team in an active, constructive but critical manner. Being ultra is not restricted to match days but is fundamentally a way of life, devoting a large parts of one’s spare time to organizing activities or preparing displays for the next match. The meticulously choreographed displays (tifos) – large flags, mosaics, drums, flares, chants, and so forth – in combination with a high degree of spontaneity constitute a fundamental characteristic of the ultra movement” (Spaaij and Vinas 2005, p.80).
The ultra fandom of Persis Solo’s fans known as Pasoepati (see pasoepati.net and sambernyawa.com) is perpetuated partly through the creation of popular songs and chants. These can be downloaded and listened to on the Pasoepati websites. The chants include ‘alap-alap samber nyawa’, ‘satu jiwa’ and a chant of the city’s name, ‘Solo, Solo’. These chants are accompanied by rapid and rhythmic drumming. They are uncomplicated tunes, easily learned and sung easily in a massive crowd. The purpose of these chants (and playing of music) is to provide a noisy atmosphere that is both supportive for the home team and intimidatory for the referee and away team.
Fan culture, amongst Pasoepati negotiates the meanings of punk culture, folk culture, regional identity. Soccer fandom becomes a medium for articulating conflicting and changing values and meanings. This is a serious leisure activity in which fans use up much of their spare time to create artefacts of popular culture. To study sport or soccer is to engage with a broad range of discourses, hardly limited to what happens on the field or stadium.
Politicians of major parties such as Golkar have infiltrated many of the key positions of management. The Jakmania supporters for Jakarta’s Persija stated their support for Sutiyoso in the election from a few years ago between himself and Fauzi Bowo. The Bakrie group is closely involved with Arema (Malang) – they also have a representative on the board at the Brisbane Roar in Australia. The football-masses are a floating mass that may be utilized in political campaigns. These groups of supporters are largely without specific ideology – beyond that of devoting their ‘loyalty’ to the team.
It is not for nothing that the mass campaigns of political parties resemble the tactics of soccer fans: massive parades through cities, commandeering public transport, convoys of buses and motorcycles, the waving of flags, mobile street theatre performances, exaggerated statements of loyalty and hatred. The difference between ‘ultras’ and ‘hooligans’ is not apparent in the framing of and practices of fandom within soccer cultures in Indonesia. The black and white distinction of ‘hooligans’ as those fans who are violent and ‘ultras’ those fans who provide the chanting and banners is not particularly convincing. Both rely on each other for creating a both a menacing mood as well as a fear of a mass of supporters. Fans may cross over from one group to the next. Indeed, both groups have porous borders and shifting cultures.