The shout of “Matiin! Matiin!” (Kill him! Kill him!) echoed in the sector 22 Gelora Bung Karno Stadium as a man was beaten severely by an angry mob during the Persija Jakarta vs Persib Bandung match last Sunday.
The police acted quickly to save the guy who had been turned into a human punching bag, but even when he was surrounded by the men in uniform, the mob didn’t stop punching him. The level of hatred was sickening. Little kids shouted some really vile words, and the violence was followed by a cheer from the mob after the man was finally escorted out by the police. I was there, sitting in the upper stands, to witness the a grotesque sight, which happened not only once in my area but twice.
Similar incidents happened in other sectors that day. You could notice it instantly by the sudden turning of heads and the crowd rushing to their target. I counted at least five separate occasions where spectators in the stands ran amok.
I’ve been regularly attending the Persija vs Persib fixture in the last three years but what happened on Sunday was a horrible thing to see. I almost threw up in disgust at the sickening sight. It’s one man against a mob. It’s like a lynching. Maybe, it is indeed a lynching.
These things always happen in this fixture considering the level of animosity between the two sets of fans. The opposing fans are advised not to go to the away game and to beat the hell out of rival’s fans who are caught up behind enemy lines. This time it’s different.
Later that night, the news broke that someone had died from the violence. But the fatal incident happened outside the stadium around the swimming pool arena. A single life taken is enough to make the whole football scene mourn, but it was later revealed that there were two other casualties and several others who were badly injured.
There’s been a debate, a silly one if I may, about the reasons behind the incidents. Some people argue, along with the police, that the incident had nothing to do with football. Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Cmr. Rikwanto said, “We suspect it wasn’t because of the rivalry between the two clubs’ supporters because we had agreed that no Persib fans would be allowed in to watch the match.”
How naive. To say the incidents had nothing to do with football is moronic. One of the victims, Rangga Cipta Nugraha, was an ardent fan of the Bandung club and some witness said he was quickly targeted after his identity was blown out following the Persib equalizer. Just because they’re advised not to attend the match doesn’t mean they’re not going to. Even if the opposing fans don’t obey the traveling ban doesn’t mean the mob has license of act violently. I’m afraid that if the police don’t solve this case quickly, it could get ugly beyond comprehension. The last thing we need is a vendetta.
This is a very dark period for Indonesian football. As if we don’t have enough trouble on our plate, Sunday’s incident has sunk the state of our football even lower. On the same day, a fan was stabbed in Sleman and just last week a Persiba Balikpapan player got his leg holed because of fireworks thrown by opposing fans. Earlier this season, five Persebaya Surabaya fans lost their lives in Lamongan and there’s other casualties elsewhere. Not to mention the countless brawls between players including the battle between Sriwijaya and Persija players after the match in Palembang.
They said that football reflects the state of a nation. And based on that premise, yes, we’re messed up.