JAKARTA: It was supposed to be a night of celebration for fans of Indonesian football club Persebaya.
On Oct 1, their team defeated its bitter rival Arema 2-3, the first away win on Arema’s soil in 23 years.
In honouring an existing pact with Arema fans, Persebaya supporters, known as “Bonek”, did not travel to Malang, the home of Arema, to attend the match.
They had instead planned a motorcycle convoy to welcome the squad back to Persebaya’s home city, Surabaya, a two-hour drive away from Malang.
“But upon hearing the news, we decided to disband,” Mr Husein Gozali, the coordinator of one of Persebaya’s biggest fan clubs Green Nord said, referring to the stampede at Malang’s Kanjuruhan Stadium after the match.
The stampede, which killed 125 people and injured 300 more, became one of the world’s deadliest sporting disasters in history.
“‘Go home! There will be no convoy tonight! No celebration! We won, but we will not celebrate over someone else’s tragedy,’” Mr Gozali recounted what he told other supporters that night.
After the final whistle was blown on that Saturday night, thousands of Arema fans, known as “Aremania”, invaded the pitch to vent their frustration for the loss.
Police and military officials guarding the match responded by firing tear gas canisters, which ran against security protocol set by football’s governing body FIFA.