Friday, October 20, 2017


Persela Lose Heavily After Being Forced To Play On After Huda Death

Indonesian football has united around the memory of the late Choirul Huda following his tragic death last Sunday. Games have been going ahead with a minutes' silence before kick off and players across the country wearing yellow shirts with the number one and Huda's name printed on them and supporters have been holding up banners remembering the legendary keeper.

But showing incredible insensitivity the Liga 1 authorities refused to allow the shell shocked Persela players time to come to terms with their loss and forced them to travel to East Kalimantan to fulfil their fixture with Borneo in Samarinda.

The timeline would have been very traumatic for the team. Following their 2-0 victory over Semen Padang on Sunday afternoon when Choirul was initially injured in a collision with team mate Ramon Rodrigues the team gathered at the hospital where they were greeted with the news their inspirational team mate had died. 

By Tuesday they would have been on their way to Juanda International Airport in Surabaya to catch a flight to Balikpapan and then north for the three hour drive to Samarinda all the way coming to terms with their grief and the knowledge there was one glaring omission to their travelling party.

On Thursday they lined up against Borneo as they had done in recent games with Ferdiansyah in goal but the memory of Huda, a player who had spent 18 years with the club, would have been everywhere. In the dressing room, geeing up the players, leading by example. And Ramon, sadly perceived the villain in some dark quarters of social media, started the game. One cannot imagine what he was going through. 

Borneo were 2-0 up at half time and doubled their lead in the second half before Persela scored two late penalties through Samsul Arif and Ivan Carlos Coleho but surely they should never have been put through this rigmarole. Common decency should have suggested the Persela football club be allowed a few days to contemplate recent events and a polite few days  been allowed to allow them to come to terms with their grief.

Bit no, not here, not in Indonesia. The game goes ahead as it always does after every tragedy. A few words are offered saying more will be done to stop this happening and we carry on as normal. But a death of a player on a football pitch or coming from injuries that occurred on the pitch is not normal. In fact Huda's death is the fourth in the last 17 years! 

03/04/00 Eri Arianto (Persebaya)
07/03/09 Jumadi Abdi (PKT Bontang)
10/05/14 Akly Fairuz (Persiraja)
15/10/17 Choirul Huda (Persela)

And let us not forget the fans who die at football matches, most recently the Persita supporter who was killed when uniformed thugs ostensibly supporting PSMS kicked off last week. Or players who die because of lack of care or attention like Diego Mendieta whose tragic story received world wide coverage. No, sadly lessons aren't learnt. Instead we are left wondering not if another death will occur around football but when...

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