Jakarta. Indonesian football supporters gathered at the Ministry of Sports in Jakarta on Thursday (03/08) after a Persib Bandung fan was killed by fellow supporters last month.
Fifty-three representatives from clubs in the country's top-tier Liga 1 and Liga 2 came to the gathering, which was addressed by Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, who said that government intends to stop violence that occurs during football matches.
According to watchdog Save Our Soccer, 35 people have lost their lives due to fan-on-fan violence in the country over the past five years.
On July 22, Rico Andrian, 22, was killed by Persib fans during a friendly match between Persib Bandung and Persija.
"The ministry aims to make the event an entry point for supporters to unite with each other and we want to see it as not just a ceremony, we expect to see a constructive impact from the gathering," Sports Ministry secretary general Gatot Dewa Broto said in a statement on Wednesday.
Sports Minister Imam said that he isproud of the supporters who have come to his office and urged them to stop violence and vandalism in football.
"Let's stop all the extreme violence. Let the death of our brother Rico be the last," Imam said. "I urge supporters to avoid offensive chants as they might spark riots."
Attendees at the event included Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairman Edy Rahmayadi and his deputy, Joko Driyono, Liga 1 chief executive Berlinton Siahaan, Indonesian Olympic Committee vice chairman Muddai Madang and acting sports deputy minister for high performance, Yuni Poerwanti.
Imam also urged the PSSI to allow fans to purchase stakes in their favorite clubs, to garner a greater sense of "belonging."
"We may have different football clubs, but after all, we [...] are Indonesians," Imam said.
PSSI imposed sanctions on the Bandung side after Rico's death, forbidding fans from wearing or displaying any club mementos or apparel for five matches in the hopes of curbing fanatical or rowdy behavior.
However, some have criticized the PSSI's ruling, including Anto Baret, a prominent support of Liga 1 club Arema FC, who questioned the seemingly light punishment handed down on Persib and the relation between the club's owner, Glenn Sugita, and Liga 1 itself, where Glenn serves as a first commissioner.
The Persib owner is also the co-founder of Singapore-based private equity firm Northstar Group, Liga 1's main sponsor through subsidiary ride-hailing service Go-Jek.
"PSSI exists to unite the nation through football, please do not always blame supporters. We come to the stadium after paying ticket fees, so we contribute as well to taxes," Anto said.
Meanwhile, Richard Achmad Supriyanto, leader of Persija fan association Jakmania, asked PSSI not to use the actions of some fans to scapegoat and punish all football enthusiasts.
"If there's no supporters, clubs won't have money, that's why we need to be directed. I believe if conflicts occur between supporters, natural reconciliation is better," Richard said.
"There's a net Rp 2 billion [$150,000] from gate receipts alone whenever Persija plays in Jakarta. So you can imagine, if [fans] are not involved in the club's interest and progress, some bad things might happen," he added.