The Indonesian stadium where 135 people died last year in one of football’s worst tragedies lies empty but intact, despite government pledges to demolish it and rebuild a safer site.
The red and blue stands of Kanjuruhan Stadium outside Malang city serve as a reminder to some of how little has changed since football fans – including 43 children – were trampled or suffocated to death in the October 1 stampede.
“There is no political will from the government or (Indonesian football association) PSSI to improve itself,” said Anton Sanjoyo, a sports columnist who served on the task force created after the tragedy.
The nation’s most popular sport is still reeling from the chaos unleashed when police fired tear gas into packed stands after home supporters invaded the pitch at the end of a heated match.
In the aftermath, Indonesian officials were urged to confront failings in the domestic game – blighted for years by shaky infrastructure, mismanagement and violence – and to hold organisers accountable.
The investigating task force Sanjoyo served on called for the head of Indonesia’s football association and all members of its executive committee to resign.
Instead, in the weeks immediately after the disaster, PSSI chief Mochamad Iriawan caused a furore when pictures emerged of him high-fiving and playing football with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Iriawan, a former Jakarta police chief, refused to stand down and saw out his term, while Arema FC was fined 250 million rupiah ($16,420) and two officials were handed lifetime bans.
FIFA pledged to pump money into the Indonesian football association and the country’s Under-23s went on to win gold at the Southeast Asian Games in May.
New PSSI president Erick Thohir – a government minister, billionaire, International Olympic Committee member and former Inter Milan owner – hailed the win, declaring a new chapter for Indonesian football.
But others, including prominent pundit Pangeran Siahaan, disagree.
“I believe that we’ve made progress, but I don’t think it’s enough,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s orders for a nationwide stadium audit after the disaster led to improvements at just a few facilities, pundits say – those set to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in November. PSSI says 22 stadiums are being renovated.
The site of last year’s deadly stampede, East Java’s Kanjuruhan Stadium, was earmarked for demolition, but workers have only disassembled kiosks and stalls around its grounds.
A senior minister claimed Kanjuruhan’s capacity to be 38,000, but said 42,000 tickets were issued for the doomed match.
Arema FC’s management put the maximum capacity at 45,000, according to a human rights commission report after the tragedy.
The gates at the stadium were wide enough to fit only two people, and at the time of the crush, witnesses said some were not even open.
“The security conditions of stadiums as desired by FIFA are still far from expectations, especially in stadiums that are not prepared for the U-17 World Cup,” said Sanjoyo.
PSSI executive committee member Arya Sinulingga said safety improvements included the ongoing renovation of 22 stadiums along with the introduction of CCTV and new crowd control measures, including the testing of facial recognition technology.
It is also training match organisers to meet FIFA’s standards.
“The very important thing is, we don’t want the same incident to happen again in Indonesia,” Sinulingga told AFP.
Focused on trying to lift spirits, the Indonesian football association PSSI has rarely mentioned the tragedy.
“Thohir feels he has no obligation to resolve the Kanjuruhan case. Even in meetings with journalists, he never talked about post-Kanjuruhan reform,” said Sanjoyo.
PSSI reintroduced league matches after a two-month suspension following the stampede and paid a reported $5 million to bring World Cup champions Argentina to Jakarta for a June friendly that ended in a 2-0 defeat.
“Hopefully… Indonesian football is heading in a better direction,” said football pundit and former Indonesian futsal head coach Justinus Lhaksana.
“Efforts must be made by all parties to achieve a conducive sports climate.”
But Sanjoyo says the example is not being set by the top Indonesian leaders.
“There is a strong impression that President Jokowi… does not want his relationship with FIFA to be disturbed,” he said.
Solidarity between fans has grown since the tragedy, with supporters becoming more conscious about their safety, said Siahaan.
But while away fans have been banned from many games due to fears of fan violence led by diehard “ultra” groups, fighting has still broken out between rivals.
Police also used tear gas in February against fans trying to enter the gates of a match where supporters were banned in Semarang, Central Java, but no punishment was given as authorities claimed it took place outside the stadium.
No one was injured but the incident prompted fears of a repeat tragedy.
“I can only hope that the victims are always remembered and it will be a trigger for the sports climate to be a better one,” said Lhaksana. “Don’t let it happen again. Don’t let them die in vain.”
PCB reveals schedule of National T20 Super 8
The schedule for the National T20 Super 8 has been revealed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following the advancement of the top two teams from each group to the Super Eight stage. This stage is set to take place in a round-robin format spanning from December 1 to December 8.
🚨 Schedule of the @AHGroup_Pk Presents Jazz Super 4G National T20 Cup 2023-24 Super 8 🗓️
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 30, 2023
Following the Super Eight stage, the top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals. Both semi-finals are scheduled to be played on 9 December at National Bank Stadium, at 1500 PKT and 2000 PKT respectively.
The final is scheduled to be played at the same venue on 10 December. The toss will take place at 1930 PKT and the first ball will be bowled at 2000 PKT.
The winning team of the tournament will pocket a prize money of PKR 5 million.
Meanwhile, the tournament runners-up will be awarded PKR 2.5 million. The player of the tournament will be rewarded with PKR 250,000. The same amount has been allotted to three other awards; best batter, best bowler and best wicket-keeper of the tournament. The player of the final will receive PKR 50,000 while player of the match in each of the
Super Eight games and the semi-finals will be given PKR 25,000.
This is the first edition of the tournament played since the PCB 2014 Constitution was reinstated. The previous edition of National T20, which featured six sides, was won by Sindh who clinched their maiden title after defeating defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by eight wickets. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lost out on securing a hat-trick of titles after winning both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 editions.
British Gymnastics bans weighing young athletes
British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes to stamp out methods it said are “on the fringe of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies that the governing body is introducing following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of that report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that age can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and if they are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or designing strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy had been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression”.
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse,” it added.
The Whyte Review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of those, more than 40 percent described physically abusive behavior towards gymnasts from coaches.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all else, we care about gymnasts as people, and these new policies make clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the welfare of those involved.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity for gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers, and officials through the statements set out in these policies it will ensure everyone understands what is OK and what is not OK and help prevent that happening in the future.”
Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans, Rossouw returns to Quetta Gladiators
Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed will don the Multan Sultans’ jersey in the ninth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In a trade, Iftikhar has moved to Multan Sultans, whereas Rilee Rossouw has returned to his previous franchise, Quetta Gladiators.
🔥🚨 Box-office Trade Alert 🚨🔥
🔁Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) November 30, 2023
The trade deal with Quetta Gladiators also sees Multan Sultans get the first pick in the platinum round one in exchange for Rilee Rossouw and the first Silver category pick.
Iftikhar has evolved into a formidable all-rounder for his power-hitting and foxy off-spin. He brings an experience of 229 T20 matches in which he has scored 4,476 runs. He also has a century in the format to go with 30 half-centuries. Since the start of his career in October 2010, the muscular batter has been smashing a boundary every 6.75 balls. He recently reached the 50-wicket landmark and his economy stands at 7.31.
Iftikhar Ahmed: “I am delighted to become a Sultan. It is an honour for me to represent the people of Multan as their passion for this game is second to none. Multan Sultans have evolved into a strong team and their record in the last three seasons speak for itself. Now, it is my ambition to help them bag the prestigious HBL PSL trophy,” Iftikhar said.
Captain Muhammad Rizwan: “I am very excited to welcome Iftikhar Ahmed. He brings outstanding all-round skills, which we need to be a champion team.
“It was not only his on-field skills that made us finalise this trade, but he is also a brilliant team player who uplifts dressing rooms with his presence. We are eager to put together a set of players whose skills are in sync with our positive, bold and aggressive brand of cricket.”
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