Indonesia Stadium

Indonesia Stadium Crush: Are These Tragedies Avoidable?

It happened again. Another devastating crush in a crowded, confined area has left over 130 people dead.

This time it was the Malang region of East Java, Indonesia during a league soccer match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya. After the game, fans clashed with each other and fans (mainly Arema FC) poured out onto the pitch.

Police fired tear gas to contain the chaos, but instead of helping, it caused a rush in which fans tried to flee the scene, crushing others along the way. Unfortunately, this is not the first time such a tragedy has happened.

●             Last year, 10 people died at the Travis Scott festival in the U.S.

●             Two years ago, 45 boys and men were killed in a deadly crush in Meron, Israel.

●             In 2015, more than 2,300 people were killed during the annual Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during a ritual known as the “stoning of the devil.” Mecca has been the site of many other crushes in the past several decades.

Unfortunately, there’s a whole list, but it is heartbreaking to read.

Are Crushes and Stampedes Avoidable?

No one goes to a concert, sports match, or religious event and expects to be killed due to overcrowding, panic, or stampeding. However, as these events become more common, we may need to reframe our way of thinking.

In the case of the tragedy in the Indonesia stadium, several factors came into play:

●     The stadium was filled past capacity.

●     The two teams playing are known for rowdy fans; in this case, Arema FC fans (known as Aremania) stormed the pitch, preventing others from reaching the gates.

●     There were several major security failures:

○     Safety rules of the Indonesia stadium dictate that gates must be unlocked 10 minutes before matches end, but that night, several gates were not opened.

○     There were not enough guards.

○     Guards used tear gas, which only exacerbated the chaos. 

Hindsight is always 20/20 — it’s easy to look back at what happened and identify each mistake. The hard part is having 20/20 foresight — the ability to foresee potential dangers and take precautions.

In the future, there is no doubt that Indonesian stadiums will ensure there are enough guards who undergo rigorous training regarding gates and crowd control procedures. Hopefully, stadiums and arenas around the world will double check their own safety protocols to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

Eventgoers, too, must do their part. Staying calm whether your team is winning or losing is crucial. Avoiding crowded situations should also be an option. While this may mean missing out on a concert, sporting event, or religious ritual, it may be better to be safe than sorry.

However, you do not need to miss all your favorite events. If you research an event prior to booking a ticket and trust the security company and venue have the ability to handle crowded situations, you can go. As always, be aware of the crowd, the mood, and note the exits so you can make a fast dash should chaos erupt.

While no one expects to attend an event and end up fighting for their life, crushes and stampedes have become all too common. Security companies, stadiums, arenas, event-goers, and all parties involved must take proper precautions.

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