MALANG, Indonesia — It was supposed to be a joyous occasion for fans of Arema F.C., the most beloved soccer team in the city of Malang, Indonesia.
Tens of thousands of young people — who call themselves “Aremania” — had packed the Kanjuruhan Stadium on Saturday night, hoping to watch their team beat Persebaya Surabaya, a club it had defeated for 23 years running.
But Arema lost, 3-2, and angry fans began rushing the field. What unfolded next became one of the deadliest sports stadium disasters in history: Police officers began shooting tear gas canisters into the crowd and beating fans with batons, witnesses said, and in a rush to flee the stadium fans piled up against narrow exits, crushing each other. At least 125 people were reported dead as of Sunday night.
“I’m still thinking: ‘Did all this really happen?’” said Felix Mustikasakti Afoan Tumbaz, a 23-year-old fan whose right leg was injured when a tear-gas canister landed on him. “How could such a tragedy occur and kill so many people?”