Indonesia tragedy: FIFA, PSSI to form task force

The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and FIFA will form a joint task force in a bid to improve crowd control and safety measures after a deadly football stampede earlier this month, officials said on Thursday.

Indonesian authorities are under pressure to take swift steps to overhaul football safety standards after more than 130 people died during a crowd crush at a match at the Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java on Oct. 1 in one of the worst stadium disasters in history.

Security experts have said the firing of tear gas by police inside the stadium, a measure prohibited by FIFA, triggered the fatal stampede.

“We agreed to form a task force, or soccer transformation task force, consisting of the government, FIFA, and experts in soccer, security, and stadiums,” PSSI head Mochamad Iriawan told reporters after a meeting with FIFA officials.

Under the plans, Indonesian police would ensure their standard operating procedures were synchronised with FIFA regulations, he said.

The joint task force will also include members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as well as the police and the ministries of sport, home affairs, health and public works.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has said FIFA did not plan to sanction his country over the incident, but the rare intervention by the sport’s governing body comes as Indonesia is due to host the FIFA under-20 World Cup next year.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is expected to visit Jakarta on Tuesday to meet with Jokowi, after which a joint commitment is due to be announced.

Infantino will also make a statement during a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies in Bali in November about Indonesia’s readiness to host an international event, said Iriawan.

Six people including police and match organisers are facing criminal charges after the stampede, with the government highlighting lax safety measures, such as locked exit doors and an overcapacity stadium, as contributing factors.

Separately, the Indonesian minister of public works said that the Kanjuruhan stadium would be completely renovated after an audit of the site.

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