Indonesia to demolish football stadium as FIFA pledges reforms

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has confirmed that the Kanjuruhan Stadium – the location where more than 130 people were killed following a stampede – will be demolished and rebuilt, as his FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino pledged to reform the sport in the country.

The pair met in Jakarta following the disastrous event which occurred after the conclusion of Persebaya beating rivals Arema 3-2 on October 1, away from home.

Among those to have died were 40 children, with the Indonesian government reporting approximately 580 spectators to be injured.

Widodo told reporters after the meeting that he and the FIFA President “agreed to thoroughly transform Indonesian soccer” and every preparatory aspect must reach “FIFA standards”.

This includes the Kanjuruhan Stadium, which is now set to be knocked down to then be reconstructed.

Widodo and Infantino have also agreed to set up a joint task force as Indonesia prepares to host the Under-20 World Cup between May 20 and June 1, 2023.

The Swiss-Italian official, who gifted Widodo a football shirt, insisted the global football body will work closely with the Indonesian government to ensure every stadium safety requirement was met and next year’s tournament runs smoothly.

“What I can guarantee to all the people of Indonesia: FIFA is here with you, FIFA is here to stay, FIFA is here to work in a very close partnership with the government, with the Asian Football Confederation and with the Federation of Indonesia,” Infantino said.

He added: “This is a football country, a country where football is a passion for over 100 million people.

“We owe it to them that when they see a match they are safe and secure.”

Events were triggered after home fans invaded the pitch in response to their defeat and threw objects and missiles in the direction of players and officials.

Police fired tear gas, leading to more than 42,000 spectators inside the 36,000-seat stadium to rush for the exits.

Away supporters had already been banned from the match, due to concerns about potential crowd trouble.

A government-sanctioned fact-finding team released a report last week which concluded “excessive” and “indiscriminate” use of tear gas was the main cause of death.

It said police on duty did not know using tear gas was prohibited at football stadiums.

The group – which includes government officials, football and security experts and activists – has also called for the resignations of the head of the Indonesian Football Association and Executive Committee members.

Three police officers are among six people to be charged for negligence for the stadium disaster.

If individuals are found guilty, potential penalties include up to five years in prison.

Authorities are also seeking to prosecute the head of the Liga Indonesia Baru, which organises football competitions in Indonesia, and two Arema Football Club officials.

National police have removed police chiefs from the East Java province and Malang district and suspended nine other officers over violations of professional ethics.

Following the incident, the country’s domestic football league has been suspended, while Arema has been banned from hosting games for the rest of the season. –

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