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Without spectators, Indonesia holds rematch between clubs involved in deadly stampede


The rematch of an Indonesian football game that ended in one of the world’s worst stadium stampedes last year began on Tuesday night with no spectators present, officials said.

Fierce rivals Persebaya and Arema FC last met in October 2022, when their match ended in a crush in which 135 people were killed. Many died as they fled for the exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd – a crowd control measure banned by world football’s governing body FIFA.

“The match is without spectators, according to the permit issued by police,” Persebaya said on its Instagram account.

The game was scoreless after 21 minutes.

A Reuters photographer inside the stadium said only a few media and club officials as well as security guards were sitting on the benches watching the game. Hundreds of policemen were seen on guard outside the stadium.

The stadium is located near the headquarters of Indonesia’s national police force and is surrounded by the police academy.

Indonesian football has grappled with a range of issues in recent months. Last month, the country was stripped of its right to host the under-20 World Cup following outrage among politicians in the predominantly Muslim nation about Israel’s participation.

FIFA then froze development funds allocated for the country’s football association as a sanction.

Tuesday’s Persebaya-Arema FC match was supposed to take place in early March but was postponed by police due to persistent concerns over fan rivalries and crowd control issues.

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