A ticket sales disaster is threatening the fate of Wednesday’s second leg of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup final at Gelora Bung Karno.
Thousands of fans who had queued up since early Sunday, some camping in front of ticket booths since the previous evening to make sure they could buy some of the 30,000 cheapest available seats, ran out of patience in the afternoon and ran riot.
Intervening Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) units managed to restore order, but the damage was already done. Thousands of fans had wreaked havoc by trampling the playing field, and some tried to damage the goalposts.
Problems started when the organizers moved sales into the stadium, with the queues relocated to the covered area of the tribune after rain began. A stampede took place as people tried to get into the tribune, breaking a gate and fences in the process.
Once inside, the slow sales process led some impatient fans to scale the fence, run onto the field and chase the staff in an attempt to take the Rp 50,000 ($5.60) Category III tickets. More fans followed, breaking more fences.
Chaos ensued when the people who managed to grab vouchers tossed them into the air, sparking another scramble.
Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairman Nurdin Halid said in an interview with TVOne on Sunday afternoon that the AFF had sent a warning that the final could be moved to “a neutral place” if Gelora Bung Karno was severely damaged.
“The AFF also said that if we can’t maintain order and assure the safety of the players, they will move the final away from Gelora Bung Karno,” Nurdin said.
Once police managed to remove everyone from the stadium, the maintenance crew immediately began mending the pitch. Ticket sales continued in several areas around the stadium.
Organizers have sold 76,871 tickets for the final, but sales have faced problems since Day 1, from higher prices to poor distribution. The tickets were sold by category — Category I on Thursday, Category II on Friday and Category III on Sunday. VVIP, West VIP and East VIP were only sold online.
Bento Virdiawan, a staff member, told the Jakarta Globe that 25 people were divided into four groups and assigned to ticket sales. “Today I worked in a group of six. Each group was given 3,000 ticket vouchers. We predicted this riot would happen,” he said, adding that he and the other staff were hired for Rp 100,000 a day.
10 a.m. Ticket booths scheduled to open.
11:30 a.m. First booths open.
12 p.m. Organizers tell people who already have ticket vouchers to enter the stadium. Thousands more sit in the tribune waiting for their names to be called.
2 p.m. People grow impatient and begin shouting for tickets.
2:15 p.m. Fans break out of the tribunes and onto the field, chasing ticketing staff and damaging the grass.
2:45 p.m. Armed Brimob officers arrive and restore calm. Some people sit on the grass, others return to the tribune.
6 p.m. Ground maintenance staff start repairing the pitch for Wednesday’s match.