Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday that Indonesia would demolish and rebuild the soccer stadium where more than 130 people were killed in a stampede this month, as he pledged a “total transformation” of sport in the soccer-mad country.
The president, known as Jokowi, was speaking to reporters at the State Palace after meeting with Gianni Infantino, president of the International Football Association (FIFA).
“The Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang … we will demolish it and rebuild it according to FIFA standards,” he said.
The deadly stampede after a league match in Malang on October 1 was blamed on police firing tear gas at the stadium, a crowd control measure banned by FIFA.
The president said he and Infantino agreed on important changes in how the sport is run in Indonesia.
“We agreed on a comprehensive change of Indonesian football,” he said. “Every aspect of preparation … has to be based on FIFA standards.”
The meeting between Jokowi and Infantino comes after Indonesia and FIFA agreed to form a joint working group in the wake of the stadium tragedy, and as the country prepares to host the U-20 World Cup next year.
Speaking alongside Jokowi, Infantino said FIFA’s first priority is to ensure the safety of players and fans in the Southeast Asian country.
“This is a football country, a country where football is a passion for more than 100 million people,” he said. “We owe it to them that when they see a match they are safe.”
Infantino, who presented the president with a red FIFA T-shirt with his name printed on it, said the world soccer body will work closely with the government to ensure all stadiums meet safety requirements and that the U-20 World Cup runs smoothly next year.
Under pressure to explain the cause of one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters, a government-appointed fact-finding team released a report last week concluding that “excessive” and “indiscriminate” use of tear gas was the leading cause of death.
As fans were trying to get off the field after homeowner Arima FC was defeated by Persibaya Surabaya, they were caught in a fatal accident, in which many, including more than 40 minors, died of suffocation.
The report also identified other contributing factors, including filling the stadium beyond its capacity, closing exit doors and pushing league officials to hold the match at night to secure better ratings for local radio, despite police requesting a match between fierce competitors be held during the day.
The fact-finding team also said that more than three hours of CCTV footage about an hour after the match was deleted. The team has asked the police to provide this footage.
The team also called on the head of the Indonesian Football Association to resign.