Photo by Siswowidodo for Antara.

Indonesian football experienced its darkest day on 1 October, when more than 130 spectators were killed – including 35 children – after police fired tear gas into the crowd at the conclusion of a match between local rivals Arema Malang and Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang. Fans fleeing the tear gas, which police fired after some fans entered the playing field, were killed in the crush in stairwells and at exits that in some cases were locked or partially closed.

Other football leagues around the world held a moment’s silence in the wake of the tragedy as a mark of respect to the victims, in what was one of the worst football disasters globally in the history of the game. Within Indonesia, vigils have been held around the country for the fans who died at Kanjuruhan. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has asked a fact-finding team to deliver a report into the disaster within a month, and the country’s professional leagues have been suspended. The police’s decision to use tear gas has been almost universally criticised.

How we can account for the police decision to use tear gas in a sold-out Kanjuruhan Stadium, and what investigations and accountability are likely after the death of so many fans? What has the game-day experience been like for football fans in Indonesia, and what will be required to ensure that the events of Kanjuruhan are never repeated?

In the wake of this national tragedy, Dr Dave McRae discusses these issues with Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, and Yogi Setya Permana, a PhD candidate at KITLV in the Netherlands and the author of a 2017 study into football fan groups and local politics in Malang.

In 2022, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Dave McRae from the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University, and Tito Ambyo.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.

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