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Indonesia task force wants FA chief to resign over stadium disaster

The task force investigating a stadium tragedy that killed 132 people in Indonesia has called on the country’s football association chief to resign, a top minister said Friday. 

A stampede sparked by police firing tear gas into packed stands took place after a match between home team Arema FC and rivals Persebaya Surabaya on October 1 in the city of Malang, East Java. 

An investigation team was set up as anger rose against the police response after 132 people, including dozens of children, died with many killed in a crush as they rushed for small exits.

“Technically, the government cannot intervene in PSSI, but in a country based on morals, ethics and great culture, it is recommended the PSSI head and all the executive committee members resign as the form of responsibility,” the report, handed to President Joko Widodo, said, referring to the football association.

The 124-page report was released after Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD held a press conference saying the association, known by its Indonesian acronym PSSI, should take responsibility for the disaster.

Rights groups and survivors told AFP the police used excessive force in responding to a pitch invasion while experts on Indonesian football said the country’s most popular sport had been poorly managed by officials at all levels for decades.

Mahfud said the incident was more harrowing than previously known, based on CCTV footage from 32 cameras reviewed by the team. 

“We discovered the fact that the situation — where many victims were falling — was far more terrifying than what was seen on TV or social media,” he said Friday after meeting Widodo.

In response to the disaster, Widodo suspended all football matches until the investigation was complete and ordered a safety review of all stadiums.

Mahfud on Friday also blamed other football stakeholders including Arema FC, accusing them of negligence. 

“We also found out the stakeholders dodged their responsibilities, they all took shelter under the regulations and contracts which are technically legal,” he said. 

The fact-finding team also suggested the PSSI revise its regulations to eliminate any potential conflict of interest between the police and the association. 

The current head of the association Mochammad Iriawan is the former police chief of the capital Jakarta.

At least six people including three police officers have been charged in the deadly incident.

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