Indonesia soccer leak: Tear gas leading cause of death, researchers say

A fact-finding team tasked with investigating a deadly soccer accident in Indonesia has concluded that tear gas was involved in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, the country’s security minister said on Friday.

The team, which includes government officials, football and security experts, has been investigating how more than 130 people died at Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java on October 1.

Coordinating Security Minister Mahfud MD said a separate team was still investigating the toxicity of the gas being used, but whatever the outcome, it cannot “minimize the conclusion that the mass death (amount) was mainly caused by tear gas”.

The Indonesian authorities and the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) have faced a lot of questions and criticism about why the police fired tear gas inside the pitch, a crowd control measure banned by world football’s governing body FIFA.

The fact-finding team found that the police personnel on duty were not aware of the ban on tear gas at football matches. Tear gas was fired “without measure” and the officers took “excessive” measures, he said.

The police have sought to play down their role in the tragedy, insisting that narrow gates at the overcapacity stadium exacerbated the crush.

The police and military are investigating dozens of their officers in connection with the incident.

Investigators concluded that PSSI had been negligent in ignoring regulations and called for the resignation of its president and executive committee.

He also added that the organizer of the match, PT Liga Indonesia Baru, was also negligent.

Mahfud said the findings, detailed in a 124-page list of recommendations, were given to the president.

Earlier this week, PSSI announced that it had formed a working group with FIFA to improve crowd control and security measures. The rare intervention by the sport’s governing body comes as Indonesia is set to host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup next year.