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Indonesia to demolish stadium after tragedy as FIFA vows improved safety

The president of footballs world governing body has met with Indonesia’s president and pledged to help improve stadium safety to prevent a repeat of a tragedy in which police fired tear gas at a match, causing a crush that killed over 130 people as spectators attempted to flee.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Tuesday said his organisation will bring experts and investment to improve infrastructure across the football-obsessed country of more than 276 million people because “they love football and we owe it to them that when they go to see matches, they are safe and secure.”

He said FIFA will work closely with the government, the Asian Football Confederation and Indonesia’s Football Association to ensure that the Under-20 FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Indonesia next year will run smoothly.

“My presence here is a sign of a new departure for football in Indonesia,” Infantino said in a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. 

“What I can guarantee to the president, what I can guarantee to all the people of Indonesia, is FIFA is here with you.”

The October 1 tragedy at a stadium in East Java’s Malang city that killed 132 people, including 43 children, was one of the world’s deadliest sporting disasters. About 580 spectators were injured, the government said.

A fact-finding team set up by Widodo in response to a national outcry concluded on Friday that the tear gas was the main cause of the tragedy.

It said police on duty had no knowledge that the use of tear gas is prohibited at football stadiums and used it “indiscriminately” in the pitch, the stands and outside the stadium, causing more than 42,000 spectators inside the 36,000-seat stadium to rush to the exits.

The fact-finding team, which included government officials, football and security experts and activists, also concluded that the national football association, known as PSSI, had been negligent and had ignored regulations, and urged its chairman and executive committee to resign.

READ MORE: Thank God, Indonesian football is not sanctioned’ – Joko Widodo

Stadium to be demolished

Widodo insisted that Indonesia will host the tournament professionally and according to FIFA safety standards.

“We agreed that this tragedy is a very important lesson for Indonesian football and also for the world,” Widodo said.

He said his administration agreed to completely transform Indonesian football to ensure all aspects are run according to FIFA security standards.

“For Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, we will demolish and rebuild it according to FIFA standards,” Widodo told reporters.

He said the replacement stadium will have “proper facilities that can ensure the safety of both players and supporters”.

While in Jakarta, Infantino also is to meet with the fact-finding team to discuss the results of its investigation and its recommendations to the government.

Widodo has suspended all football matches until the probe is complete and ordered a safety review of all stadiums.

READ MORE: Indonesian president calls for audit of stadiums after deadly stampede

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