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Indonesian sports minister apologises to Malaysia over football fracas

Indonesian sports minister apologises to Malaysia over football fracas

Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sport Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (centre in yellow) shouts slogans during FIFA world cup preliminary qualification round 2 match between Malaysia and Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium di Jakarta on Sep 5, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

JAKARTA: Indonesia's Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi has issued a formal apology to the Malaysian government for the violence that erupted during a match at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta on Thursday (Sep 5). 

He also apologised to his Malaysian counterpart Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, saying: "On behalf of the Indonesian government and people of Indonesia, I would like to apologise over the inappropriate behaviour of our supporters during the match last night." 

Both Malaysia and Indonesia had been playing their opening match in the second round of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers when violence broke out in the second half, after Malaysia scored to make it 2-2 in the 65th minute. 

READ: Crowd trouble in Jakarta mars Malaysia's comeback win over Indonesia in World Cup qualifier

An Indonesian fan had run across the pitch and thrown an object towards the section where Malaysian fans had been seated. The game was stopped for about 10 minutes to allow security teams to control the situation. 

A third goal from Malaysia kicked off another wave of trouble, with Malaysian fans being targeted by locals in the stands. 

Syed Saddiq, who had been among the Malaysian fans, later said on Twitter that flares, bottles and metal objects were hurled at them. 

Malaysian players celebrate their victory after FIFA world cup preliminary qualification round 2 match between Malaysia and Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta on Sep 5, 2019. (Photo: AFP/ADEK BERRY)

Imam said that the Indonesian government, along with its football association, would impose a sanction on violent supporters who had thrown the bottles and smoke bombs at Malaysian supporters. 

In his response, Syed Saddiq lauded Imam's attempts to ease the tension, saying he had "made assurance that the police will crack down on the violent supporters". 

He also said that Indonesia and Malaysia must maintain harmonious relations in spite of the incident. 


In a Facebook post on Saturday, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) confirmed it had met representatives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as part of efforts to bring the issue to the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA). 

Earlier on Friday, FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam had said the association was gathering evidence on the incident. 

He said gangsterism had no place in football and that FAM was very disappointed with the behaviour of the Indonesian fans. He also said that the Indonesian football association had failed to anticipate the crowd trouble and thus did not fulfill their promise with Malaysia. 

Policemen detain a supporter of Indonesia next to supporters of Malaysia (in black) after an incident during the World Cup qualifier at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Sep 5, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

"What happened meant that the hosts failed to fulfill the general promise made for the match and also failed to control the behaviour of their fans before, during and after the match, to the extent of marring the image of Indonesian football," he said.

"Players and officials of both countries displayed fair play and professionalism but the match was marred by incidents off the pitch," he added. 

The FAM chief also said that despite the police escort from the airport to the stadium and back again, "especially for about 300 supporters in six buses, the situation was still chaotic". 

Armoured vehicles outside the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta. (Photo: Bernama)

He also praised the Malaysian supporters for behaving in a positive manner despite the provocation.

“We would like to advise you to remain patient and to respect foreign fans who are in our country, whether they are from Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand or Vietnam for the matches at the National Stadium later."


Speaking after the match on Thursday, Indonesian goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa - also captain of the Garuda squad - said he was disappointed to see such violent behaviour. 

“Very painful. Because we were leading twice and finally lost 3-2. Definitely sad ... disappointed too ... but honestly, it was more painful to witness what happened at the stadium," he told reporters.

The incident "has really tarnished the good name of Indonesia", he said, adding that supporters should always accept the outcome of a match.

"As the captain of the national team, I’m very sad to see what happened and what was committed by our supporters tonight."

Malaysia will face United Arab Emirates on Tuesday at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, while Indonesia will play against Thailand on the same day.


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