Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Football Loses As Fans Damage U20 World Cup Venue

Just days after Indonesia were confirmed as hosts of the 2021 U20 World Cup football fans have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Persebaya hosted newly promoted PSS at Bung Tomo Stadium yesterday and in what should have been an all green football feast on the terraces at least ended up with disgruntled home fans invading the pitch and trashing parts of the stadium.

That Persebaya lost the game 3-2 making it a winless streak of six games may have had something to do with the disturbances at the end of the match. But then if football fans around the world decided to damage their own stadium each time they lost we wouldn't have much of a game, would we?
Fans are quick to blame the PSSI for the ills that afflict the beautiful game but they need to think about their own role in the way football is perceived locally. That just over 21,000 saw this Liga 1 game, and that would have included a decent away following, says much about how the team are currently seen by supporters. Unlike many other countries if an Indonesian team struggles for a game or two 'supporters' respond by staying away. 

And if that poor run continues, well we see scenes like we saw yesterday in Surabaya. Usually what follows is quotes from fans, much like excuses bingo, saying the team are performing poorly, we're frustrated, it's not our fault, we were provoked (select your favoured excuse from the list). But what never happens is the suggestion those who got on the pitch were in any way to blame for their actions.

We heard a club executive earlier in the season suggest fans kicking off like this and causing thousands of dollars of damage to the stadium was perfectly normal and almost a part of the costs of being a football club.

For sure, clubs tip toe around supporters and their feelings. When fans unite they can be a force for good. Witness PSS supporters threatening to boycott games unless the club became more professional or the sustained pressure applied by Persebaya fans to have their team readmitted to the league following years in the wilderness.

In football when one team wins then another loses. It's part of the game. Unfortunately defeat is seen as a too bitter a pill to swallow lightly without putting up with some kind of resistance. Fans are quick to rise up against club management when they feel they are doing the wrong thing, when will they start recognising their behaviour at times damages the club they profess to love just as much as the actions of the suits?

But this blind acquiescence to supporters and their feelings is not helping the game. There is no way clubs should be casually brushing aside such misbehaviour because these actions damage the game as much as the perceived incompetence among officialdom, poor match officials and match fix allegations.

We are now in the election season for the top jobs at the PSSI. Don't expect all round condemnation from the corridors of power; they'll be busy dishing out more fines to the clubs concerned to worry about taking steps to improve security at football.

Simply put, crowd control is not seen as a major issue within Indonesian football circles, not even when it results in death. Until that mindset changes we will continue to see a repetition of such scenes throughout the season, clubs will continue paying the fines and the PSSI will keep counting the cash and hope come 2021 people will behave themselves.

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