Sunday, June 04, 2017


Persija Fans Warned As Thugs Pull Plug On TV Coverage

So Persija won only their second game of the season, defeating Arema 2-0 to crawl away from the relegation zone. You would think their passionate the support would be celebrating wouldn't you? Maybe they were but it is doubtful they would have woken up the next day with so much to cheer about.

There does seem to be an element in their support with a self destruct button. Hardly a home game has gone by this season where there has not been some incident or other in or around the Patriot Stadium in Bekasi when Persija have been at home. The games have been well attended but the problems I understand have happened outside the stadium by unruly fans kicking off for whatever reason.

For the Arema game they allegedly went one step further. They trashed the TV trucks that were broadcasting the game live to a nation. Seriously, what was all that about? I have said from time to time it would be a great boost for the local game if selected fixtures were broadcast live around Asia. What a way to introduce the local game to people who think Thai football is so good, Just imagine fans in Bangkok, Penang and Hanoi sitting down to watch Persija only to have the transmission cut by pissed off small minded fans. How would Indonesian football look then?

Last season Persija were given permission to play a few home games in Jakarta even though authorities wanted to renovate Bung Karno Stadium. What happened? More violence which left one fan dead. A pitch invasion that saw home fans aim for people in uniform and the game cancelled. Guess what? Persija were banned from playing any home games in Jakarta and became the nomadic club one more time.

A lot of money is being invested in the Bung Karno to improve facilities but what's the point if the stadium gets trashed the first time Persija have a home game there? The incoming governor has, liked other governors before him, promised a new stadium for Persija but will they be keen on honouring that pledge when they know how volatile elements of the Persija support are so keen to kick off?

Persija fans like to play the victim card but it is wearing a bit thin. On their day they have a fantastic support; I saw them in Lamongan a few weeks back and the people I was with for a game against Mitra Kukar were blown away by the atmosphere inside the stadium. But always at the back of the mind there is this nagging doubt it doesn't take much to set some supporters off.

Following the plug pulling incident the West Java police in Bekasi are now saying no more. Any more incidents and they will no longer issue security clearance for Persija to play their home games in their city. The club's supporters have also been warned to stay away from Bekasi tonight as Bhayangkara host Persib. A quick look at a map tells you how close Bekasi is to Bandung, the last think Indonesian football and Persija supporters need is a high profile incident attracting more negative headlines to the game.

Years ago Persija fans, plagued by similar issues, admitted they had issues. They weren't the best, they said, but they were trying. They need to keep trying and keep trying harder to ride themselves of those supporters who keep dragging the good name of the club they profess to love through the mud. Their next game? Away to PS TNI on Thursday and we know what happened their last season.

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