Fabius Chen – Straits Times
Singapore. Singapore and Persija Jakarta defender Precious Emuejeraye has likened donning an away jersey in one of the Indonesia Super League’s fiercest clashes to a suicide attempt.
A brawl that took place at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium after Sunday’s 2-2 draw between hosts Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung left three fans dead and several injured. One of the dead was a Bandung fan but the loyalties of the others remained unclear.
And while Emuejeraye learnt about the casualties from reading the news, he has long been aware of the potential dangers facing supporters at such high-profile matches.
“The rivalry between both teams is very strong, so there were very few away fans there,” he said of the 80,000-strong crowd at the stadium.
“It’s the same as when we play in Bandung, no one wants to risk their lives. One away supporter came in a blue Persib shirt.
“You don’t wear an away team’s jersey to the stadium unless you want to die.”
The Gelora Bung Karno Stadium is widely regarded as one of Asia’s most inhospitable venues for visiting teams, as former Singapore captain Noh Alam Shah experienced with Persib on Sunday.
But that could soon change, with a police spokesman telling the Jakarta Globe that future games between the two sides could take place in either an empty Gelora Bung Karno or at a neutral venue.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s rebel league says it was not responsible for the trouble.
“We organized the match but we will only say it’s our fault if it’s proven that they were fighting over football,” senior Super League official Syahril Taher told Agence France-Presse. “The clash happened after the match outside the stadium.”
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times