Fears that Thursday’s match between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung would be marred by violence between supporters went largely unrealized.
Jakarta Police deployed more than 2,000 officers to Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in anticipation of clashes between Persija supporters’ group Jakmania and Persib fans, known as the Vikings.
Those clashes failed to materialize, though, and supporters saw their clubs play out a 2-2 draw. Abanda Herman’s injury-time header salvaged a point for Persija, but the draw did neither side any good in its pursuit of league leader Arema Malang.
Police arrested 12 Jakmania members on weapons possession charges, state-run news agency Antara said, one of whom was a 9-year-old boy. Police also ticketed and towed 272 vehicles , including 72 buses.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Andi Alifian Mallarangeng on Thursday asked fans to behave and stop bringing items such as knives, machetes and sickles to matches.
“Let’s support our clubs in a peaceful manner. Avoid anarchy and don’t bring things which are not related to football. Sickles have nothing to do with football,” he said.
Persib fans were barred from the match. The Vikings and Jakmania have a long history of violence between them, and no supporters were allowed into Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, West Java, when the teams played out a scoreless draw on Jan. 9.
Fan violence will be on the agenda when stakeholders in Indonesian football descend on Malang, East Java, for a National Football Congress on March 30 and 31.
“Nowadays, not many women and children watch football any more because they’re afraid of riots,” Andi said. “We’re going to discuss on how to improve Indonesian football and create a friendly and safe football matches.”
The conference is also expected to touch on the decline in results from Indonesian clubs and national teams.
Jakarta Police have paid close attention to football matches and supporters this year. When Persija hosted defending champion Persipura Jayapura on March 16, police arrested 11 Jakmania members for carrying weapons.
Antara reported police found machetes, sickles and a molotov cocktail among the fans arrested on Thursday, though the 9-year-old was not taken into custody.
“Those who are under 18 years old won’t be detained. We’ll just give them guidance and send them back home,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said.