Stadium Kanjuruhan tragedy: recalls the problem of misuse of tear gas by the police and the PSSI controversy

The Indonesian National Police (Polri) is in the spotlight of the community during the deadly disaster at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang, East Java, on October 1, 2022. The incident, which killed at least 132 people and injured more than 370 others, was complained to be one of the ugliest sports in the world.

Some football populations in Germany as well as Spain said they sympathized with the many victims and questioned the police for the violence that led to the disastrous acts.

The same incident occurred after police fired tear gas into a crowd of pyres on the podium, even though FIFA had banned the use of "mass control gas" in football matches.

Read Also : Kanjuruhan : Lessons from this tragedy

As an International Interaction academic who concentrates on national security gossip, I have an opinion that from that, we deserve to re-highlight the issue of the use of tear gas by police officers.

Police, football, and tear gas

Football chaos is actually common in Indonesia. As of August 2022, there are 79 people who have died in incidents related to Indonesian football matches since the start of the 1994 Liga Indonesia event.

Police often use tear gas to control crowds in stadiums

In the final match of the 2019 President Cup between Persebaya Surabaya challenging Arema FC at Gelora Tomo Stadium (GBT), Surabaya, police fired tear gas to keep partisans - who did not have tickets - forcibly entering the stadium.

On June 3, 2012, partisans died after police fired tear gas at the pirsawan at the GBT stadium. On September 15, 2022, police again fired tear gas at the troubled partisans.

After the kanjuruhan disaster, the East Java police chief even defended the use of tear gas by the apparatus on the ground, arguing that the act was already the same according to the police system.

As far as global football events go, the use of tear gas has caused many inflicts in stadiums, counting the Estadio Nacional in Lima, Peru, 1964; the Accra Sports Stadium incident in Ghana, 2001; and the port of Said Stadium in Egypt, 2012.

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In Indonesia, police also used tear gas to disperse protests at several events other than sports. In 2020, in a series of protests on the drafting of the Job Creation Bill - currently already designated as a law — police fired tear gas at demonstrators in Jakarta, Semarang (Central Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Yogyakarta, and Jambi.

This year, the National Police distributed Rp 160 billion (US$ 10.four million) for the supply of tear gas. Since its inception in 2013, the largest expenditure on the supply of tear gas was rp 332.1 billion (US$ 21.7 million), namely in 2017. Then the 2nd largest is IDR 226.9 billion (US$ million) in 2020.

Management of PSSI that has problems

Police claimed they did not understand fifa's ban on the use of tear gas in stadiums and if what they did was in accordance with the system.

It seems strange if the Police do not understand the tear gas ban, remember the current Chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), Mochamad Iriawan, who is a retired police officer. He should be able to communicate more and cooperate with the police regarding the regulation.

On the contrary, Iriawan admitted that the federation he held had not included a ban on tear gas in order to mitigate their effects. This matter is increasingly causing public anger.

PSSI has clearly violated its own regulations, namely Article 56 of the PSSI Safety and Security Policy. The article says some things that are not tidied up in the provisions, including the tear gas ban, must refer to the security and safety provisions of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

PSSI has also violated the rights of football partisans protected by Law Number 11 of 2022 concerning Sports (SKN) which has been established recently.

Play the Games, an agency initiated by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (Idan), in its 2021 report, has said that there are ineffectiveness in the governance of PSSI.

The report gives that PSSI has not succeeded in enduring the honesty of many of its desires. Therefore, it can be estimated that other important things in the arrangement of football by PSSI are worth monitoring.

Pssi's failure to fulfill its imperative to establish a safe and sound football league can be linked to the poor internal management of the federation and the entrenchment of corruption in the PSSI body for years.

The high reputation of football in Indonesia has made this sport so easily politicized - an event that is often discussed by many academics and the press media.

In short, we must emphasize that if the PSSI and police agencies can increase their strength in the management of matches, until the future, there will never be violations of human rights or FIFA provisions. No football game is at the price of a life.

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