'No Tear Gas': Police Promises a More 'Humane' Approach in Football Match

Diana Mariska
Tear gas let off by police at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, on October 1, 2022. (Photo: STR / AFP)
Tear gas let off by police at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, on October 1, 2022. (Photo: STR / AFP) - The National Police (Polri) said it would adopt a more “humane” approach in policing football matches in Indonesia, including by ensuring no tear gas inside stadiums.

The statement came as Indonesia is set to play Thailand in the 2022 AFF Championship at Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) stadium in Jakarta on Thursday, December 29.

“Currently, Polri is transforming the approach to football match guarding into becoming more humanistic by prioritizing safety and security,” the National Police Chief’s operational assistant Insp. Gen. Agung Setya Imam Effendi said on Wednesday, as reported by Antara.

Ahead of the game against Thailand, the police revealed several critical points made during the evaluation of previous game held last week. While policing was deemed to have been held accordingly, Effendi admitted some aspects still needed to be improved.

One of the most pressing issues is the lengthy ticket scanning process which caused long queue at the gates to the stadium. This difficulty, Effendi said, was caused by problems with the ticketing equipment as well as the limited number of resources deployed.

“The number of officers handling the scanning should be added from one or two to 10 staffs,” he suggested.

The police official also noted that many fans were not situated based on their seat number, and stewards are expected to be able to resolve the issue.

“Stewards inside the stadium must know their job. They shouldn’t be watching the match and should face the fans to identify potential security problems.”

Lastly, Effendi also expected a clear coordination between police officers, stewards, and the safety and security officers (SSO).

And most importantly, Effendi ensured that all police officers would be warned against bringing and using tear gas or other crowd control tools and equipment in football matches.

“There’s no tear gas inside the stadium,” he emphasized.

Use of tear gas in football matches has become a huge concern among football fans, especially in Indonesia, after the Kanjuruhan tragedy on October 1, in which deadly stampede claimed the lives of 135 people.

A few days after the disaster, lawmaker Andi Rio accused league organizer PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) of ignoring police’s recommendation to limit the number of spectators during the match between rivals Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya.

He said the recommendation would have prevented riots during the heated match.

However, tear gas fired by the police was also accused of causing the death of more than one hundred Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium, Kepanjen, Malang regency. The firing of tear gas into the stands reportedly caused panic among fans and led them to rush to the exit gates and leave the scene. As a result, stampede was inevitable, and people died from crowd crush and asphyxiation.

Tag # indonesia football # kanjuruhan tragedy # kanjuruhan stadium # tear gas # national police

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