Indonesia’s Jokowi says FIFA offered help after stadium disaster

At least 131 people have now died, among them 33 minors, following a stampede at the Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that world football’s governing body FIFA had offered to assist Indonesia address problems in the sport, just days after the deaths of 131 people following a stampede at a football stadium in the country’s East Java province.

The president, commonly known as Jokowi, said on Wednesday that he had spoken by phone with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who had offered his support.

“He said if needed, FIFA can help fix Indonesia’s soccer management,” the president said, referring to Infantino.

At least 131 people have died, among them 33 minors, following the football match on Saturday evening in Malang city where tear gas fired by police after a post-game pitch invasion led to a deadly stampede and a crush of supporters.

Speaking during a visit to the site of the disaster at Kanjuruhan stadium, the president said the main cause of the tragedy was “locked doors and steep stairs”.

Jokowi also said that he had ordered a full audit of stadiums across the country to ensure compliance with safety and security protocols.

“I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy so that we can get the best solution,” he said.

“We need … improvements in the whole management, management of stadium spectators, time, security. It must all be fully audited so that this tragedy won’t happen again,” he told reporters.

Earlier, the president visited Saiful Anwar hospital in Malang where he spoke to those injured in the stampede and relatives of the victims.

Asked about the possibility of FIFA sanctions on Indonesia over the stadium disaster, Jokowi said that was a matter for FIFA to decide.

FIFA, which called the incident “a tragedy beyond comprehension”, has asked Indonesia’s football federation for a full report.

“The football world is in a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia,” Infantino said in a video statement on Sunday.

“This is a dark day for all involved in football,” he said.

FIFA did not immediately respond to the Indonesian president’s comments.

Football is hugely popular in Indonesia – a country of 270 million people – and the sport has had its fair share of problems, from hooliganism and heavy-handed policing to event mismanagement.

The president’s visit to the site of the disaster comes as anger grows over the police using tear gas in response to the pitch invasion by fans of Arema FC following their defeat to fierce rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Police have described the incident as a riot and said two officers were killed, but survivors accused them of overreacting.

Football matches have been suspended pending the outcome of investigations into what happened at Kanjuruhan stadium.

The Malang police chief has been replaced, nine officers suspended, and 19 others have been put under investigation over the disaster, according to police.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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