Soccer world reacts to disaster at Indonesia stadium
Women weep after receiving confirmation that their family member is among those killed in soccer riots, at a hospital in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Panic at an Indonesian soccer match Saturday left over 150 people dead, most of whom were trampled to death after police fired tear gas to dispel the riots. (AP Photo/Dicky Bisinglasi)
Tales Azzoni , The Associated Press
Published Sunday, October 2, 2022 1:37PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 2, 2022 1:37PM EDT
MADRID (AP) — A minute of silence was observed before soccer matches around the world on Sunday in honor of victims of the disaster at a stadium in Indonesia that claimed at least 125 lives, and top players, coaches and leagues sent condolences and messages of support.
Most of the victims were trampled upon or suffocated as chaos erupted following a game between host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city and Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday night. Witnesses described police officers beating fans with sticks and shields before shooting tear gas canisters directly into the crowds to stop violence but instead triggering a deadly crush.
Indonesia’s soccer association suspended the top-tier Liga 1 indefinitely and banned Arema from hosting soccer matches for the remainder of the season, after one of the biggest tragedies globally at a sporting event.
Soccer leagues observing a minute of silence in honor of victims included Spain, Israel and the Netherlands.
In England, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola talked about the disaster following the Manchester derby in England.
“Terrible. Absolutely terrible. The world is crazy," he said. "The best thoughts for the family and everything.”
Manchester United coach Ten Hag said it was “really a disaster ... We are sad about it and our thoughts are with all the persons and the families and people of Indonesia.”
Some fans reacted to the news before kickoff in Manchester.
“We’ve been going to games for 50-odd years," said Ray Booth, a Man City fan. "We don’t think about these things, but it could quite easily happen. You have a panic with thousands of people all together. It could happen. It is frightening to think about.”
Both Manchester clubs said they were “deeply saddened” by the tragedy in Indonesia.
“We send our sincere condolences to the victims, their families, and everyone affected,” Man United said.
In Spain, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez called for a minute of silence during the club's general assembly.
Barcelona said it was “pained by the tragic events” and rejected “all acts of violence both on and off the field.” Ajax said “there should never be violence at a football match.”
Among the players who reacted was veteran PSG defender Sergio Ramos, who called the tragedy “heartbreaking.”
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” he said on Twitter.
Soccer leagues also expressed their sadness, including the Premier League, the Italian league and the Spanish league.
In a statement, FIFA President Gianni Infantino offered condolences on behalf of the global soccer community, saying “the football world is in a state of shock.”
FIFA did not mention in its statement the under-20 World Cup that Indonesia is set to host next year.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin spoke on behalf of European soccer.
“I would like to express our profound shock and sadness at last night’s appalling events in East Java’s Kanjuruhan stadium,” he said. “Our community sends its sympathy and solidarity to everyone affected by this tragedy.”
The president of the Asian soccer confederation, Shaikh Salman, said he was “deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news coming out of football-loving Indonesia.”
The Spanish soccer federation lamented the tragedy and said it "condemns any act of violence, especially those in a festive setting such as a football match.
AP Sports Writer James Robson in Manchester, England, contributed to this report.