Tragedy In The Atmosphere Of Bliss



After two months of absence from blogging, I am here today but with a sad news. On the first day of October, a tragic event occurred in the East Java Province of Indonesia. A match between the two biggest football teams in the country's club league took place on that day but was overshadowed by the stampede that happened after the match. The stampede led to the death of 125 people and over 300 injured spectators according to the report given by the Police Chief of East Java. I was shocked and saddened by the news of this tragic event being a sports enthusiast myself with a special interest in football. 'What could have caused the stampede?' This question I asked myself and was keen on finding the answer.

Arema FC and Persebaya are two of the biggest football clubs in the Indonesian league with a strong fan base. The two teams have a history of fierce rivalry with accounts of clashes between supporters of these teams whenever they play against each other. The match that took place on the first day of October was not an exception to this ugly trend. Violence broke out after the match when Arema FC, the home team, lost to Persebaya, the away team. Supporters of both teams attacked themselves in the stands after the match. The intense rivalry between the supporters of the competing teams had deteriorated into a brawl. An occurrence that should not have happened at all.

The agitated supporters of Arema FC further expressed their anger with the outcome of the match by invading the football pitch. An invasion was seen as a breach of peace by the police in the stadium who fired tear gas at the perpetrators to disperse them and gain control of the chaotic situation. Unfortunately, this action was counter-productive. It did more harm than good causing more chaos in the process. The tear gas fired by the police irritated and suffocated many spectators present in the stadium. Consequently, supporters of both teams as well as other spectators present struggled to leave the stadium sporadically. A stampede ensued as pandemonium broke out. The stampede caused a lot of fatalities as well as casualties. Fumes of tear gas pervaded the stadium. The pandemonium in the stadium was curbed later on by a combined effort of the East Java government, the Indonesian sports association, and the police. However, the damage of the stampede had been done!

I think the stampede that occurred after the match between Arema FC and Persebaya could have been avoided if the supporters of these teams had a good orientation about sports. Sport is an aggregation of various physical and mental activities that arouse passion and excitement from participants and enthusiasts while also enforcing discipline, good conduct, adherence to rules, and respect for opponents and match officials for the peaceful conduct of these events. These guidelines and rules are critical to the running of sports as they provide participants the opportunity to compete in a neutral environment. They also prevent misconduct and unruly behaviour during these events. Sports are made to be competitive but in a positive way that emphasizes excellence in an organized and unbiased atmosphere. It compels participants to strive for excellence and consistently improve their performance.

Supporters of sports teams should stop perceiving their opponents as rivals. They should see them as competitors. These supporters should take a cue from how players of the teams they support conduct themselves. These players display good qualities like discipline, tolerance, temperance, and respect for opponents while in action. These qualities are some of the hallmarks of sportsmanship. A good sportsman will see his opponent as a litmus test needed to assess his competence. A similar attitude should be adopted by supporters of these teams as it strengthens the principles of sportsmanship.

It has to be said that the Indonesian Police did not handle the crisis on the day of the incident effectively. The method they employed to manage the situation escalated it further. I hope they learn from this incident and devise better ways to manage similar occurrences in the future. Their primary duty is to secure the lives of Indonesians and not destroy them. The Indonesian Football Association also has to regulate football activities better. A massive sensitization programme needs to be implemented to enlighten sports enthusiasts on sportsmanship and tolerance. Stringent rules also need to be made and enforced to discourage violence in football events. The incident in East Java is a reminder of why these rules are so important.

I also want to implore the sports community in Indonesia to learn from the tragedy that occurred in East Java. Passion morphed into fanaticism is dangerous. It led to the death of so many sports enthusiasts and the injuries of much more in East Java. Sports is an activity that is meant to be enjoyed and vitalize people and not destroy them. Supporters need to be good sportsmen who are humble in victory and cheerful in defeat. After all, sport is a social event that bonds people and not warfare! The Indonesian sports community should change its attitude towards the outcome of sports events and embrace the spirit of sportsmanship. A deliberate effort should be made by the community to prevent a recurrence of what happened in East Java.

I offer my condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the stampede after the football match. I pray that God grants repose to your loved ones and give you the fortitude to bear their loss. Amen. I also wish the injured victims in the incident a quick recovery. May the tragedy in East Java be the last of its kind to ever happen again. Amen.

Thanks for reading,
Have a splendid day folks.

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