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Indonesia Creates Team to Test Stampede Soccer; Police use tear gas on the spot

Police and sports officials have been dispatched to Malang to investigate what is one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters. President Joko Widodo has ordered the football association to suspend all League 1 matches until the investigation is complete.

In 1964, 328 people died in a crush when Peru received Argentina at the National Stadium in Lima.

In a 1989 British disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death when an overcrowded, fenced-in arena collapsed at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said the government would form an independent investigation team, including academics and soccer experts, as well as government officials, to investigate what happened.

The team will investigate over the next few weeks with the aim of finding out who was responsible for the tragedy, he said.

At least 125 people died in one of the deadliest disasters in football history. June Kriswanto/AFP – Getty Images

Violence and hooliganism have long been hallmarks of Indonesian football, especially in places like Jakarta, the capital, but the scale of Saturday’s disaster in this Javanese city has left the small community desensitized.

Indonesian daily Koran Tempo published a black front page on Monday, centered on the words “Our Football Tragedy” printed in red along with a list of the dead.

Home team Arema FC had lost the match 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, although officials said no tickets were issued to Persebaya fans for security reasons.

Mahfud said on Sunday that the stadium had been filled beyond capacity. Some 42,000 tickets were issued for a stadium designed to hold 38,000 people, he said.

Arema FC president Gilang Widya Pramana tearfully apologized to the stampede victims on Monday, saying he took full responsibility.

“Lives are more valuable than football,” he told a news conference.

In a speech on Sunday, Pope Francis said he had prayed for those who lost their lives and for those injured in the disaster.

FIFA, which called the incident a “dark day for everyone involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension,” has asked Indonesian football authorities for a report on the incident.

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