Fans rip up and hurl seats at Asiad stadium

Irate spectators throwing chairs ripped from the stands during the football match between Sriwijaya FC and Arema FC at the Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium, a venue for next month's Asian Games, in Palembang.
Irate spectators throwing chairs ripped from the stands during the football match between Sriwijaya FC and Arema FC at the Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium, a venue for next month's Asian Games, in Palembang.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PALEMBANG • Irate Indonesian football fans ripped plastic seats from the stands and hurled them onto the pitch at a stadium scheduled to host the Asian Games next month, an official said yesterday.

A league match between Sriwijaya FC and Arema FC ended in chaos on Saturday afternoon when the fans tore up seats at the Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium in Palembang on the island of Sumatra.

Pictures showed multi-coloured chairs strewn across the outer edges of the ground, which is bordered by an athletics track.

"We are very upset with the supporters who ruined the seats in Gelora Sriwijaya during the game," Rusli Nawi, the stadium's security supervisor, told AFP.

"I've been here for nearly 10 years... there has never been damage to the seats like yesterday."

The stadium had been renovated for the Games, which will be held in Palembang and Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, from Aug 18-Sept 2.

Some 335 seats were damaged, about half of which will have to be replaced with seats ordered from outside Indonesia, Nawi added.

Police have arrested four people over the rampage, which was started by Sriwijaya fans upset at their team's 3-0 home loss, he said. No one was injured.

About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries and territories will compete in the Games, the world's biggest multi-sports event after the Olympics.

Indonesia has been scrambling to prepare venues, complete buildings, widen roads and ease traffic congestion.

A toxic, foul-smelling river near the Athletes' Village in Jakarta, which according to the authorities appears to be beyond immediate repair, has also been covered with black nylon mesh over fears it will be an eyesore during the showpiece event.

Jakarta also has some of the world's worst traffic and choking air pollution that has forced the organisers to come up with drastic solutions.

Athletes and officials will travel on dedicated lanes on roads, while schools will also be closed to take the daily commute of millions of pupils out of the equation.

Security is another concern, with the Asiad coming just a few months after terror attacks in Indonesia's second-biggest city, Surabaya, killed a dozen people and reignited concerns about Islamist militants.

Some 100,000 security staff will be deployed in Jakarta, Palembang and West Java, where several events are taking place.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'Fans rip up and hurl seats at Asiad stadium'. Print Edition | Subscribe