Thursday, October 12, 2017
Violence Mars Liga 2 Clash As PSMS Win
Having won their last three games in the second round PSMS find themselves in the quarter finals of Liga 2 and with a good chance of reaching Liga 1 after an absence of several years. But instead of yesterday's game with Persita played in Cibinong in front of a hefty following of the Medan diaspora being a celebration of a big club on the rise we were left with violent images of what appears to be military personnel attacking Persita fans inside and outside the ground.
Cibinong is also of course home to the military backed team PS TNI but the soldiers have stopped going to their games in recent weeks after a run of poor results. So why have did they suddenly turn u for this Liga 2 game?
When PS TNI first flirted with professionalism they developed close ties with PSMS for whatever reason and borrowed several of their young players. When the military backed side acquired Persiram's license this close relationship reportedly came to an end.
But the newly elected PSSI chief, a military man, has political ambitions and is a candidate in the upcoming North Sumatra governor election and that province is of course is where Medan hail from.
The disturbances that marred the second round game in Cibinong are not the first time we have seen military personnel kicking off at a football match. Last season there was serious crowd disorder when PS TNI fans invaded the pitch and attacked Gresik United fans in the Indonesia Soccer Championship. Following condemnation from all quarters the military put on a charm offensive and said it wouldn't happen again.
Now we have men in uniform kicking off again at a football match. But what were they doing at this particular game if there are no longer any links between PSMS and PS TNI? And why did they kick off like this? PSMS won the bloody game 1-0 but it was the Persita fans who were on the receiving end of a hiding from what look like service issue boots. Were all these thugs from North Sumatra?
In 2018 we face the real prospect of both PS TNI and PSMS in Liga 1. What do yesterday's events tell us about this future?
For many years the military and police have stayed away from professional football, unlike in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand but in the last couple of years, especially following the FIFA suspension, they have become more high profile, organising competitions and eventually having teams, Bhayangkara and PS TNI, in the top flight. Why this sudden interest in the game?
Football fans need to know what happened in Cibinong and why events were allowed to escalate like they did. God knows fans cause enough trouble at games but if we are to see uniformed thugs up for a fight at games for whatever reason we are being taken to a very unpleasant place indeed.