101 East

Indonesia’s Football Fever

101 East follows Indonesia’s die-hard football fans as violence threatens to shut down an entire league.

Football inspires fanaticism in Indonesia. It also inspires danger. Football violence has killed about 75 fans in the past 25 years. Thousands more have been injured.

Popular Indonesian teams travel to matches in armoured personnel carriers and riot police with automatic weapons are regular fixtures. Accusations of match-fixing fuel the anger of football crowds and brawling between fans.

Recently an entire league was suspended for a fortnight due to the violence, which threatens to shut the league down permanently.

101 East goes inside the world of “Jakmania” – the Persija Jakarta fans who are as fiery as any in Indonesia – in their race for the championship title.

In this quest to understand what drives such violence in a mostly Muslim nation that forswears alcohol, we meet fans who describe how their love of the “beautiful game” can erupt into violent clashes.

“Everyone wants to watch the game, but then you see the enemy and then you fight,” says Andibachtiar Yusuf, a filmmaker and Persija Jakarta fan.

Some fans end up paying the ultimate price.

Ari Sirla, a Persija Jakarta fan, was just 23 years old when he was beaten to death by dozens of Bandung supporters. Now his parents are grieving.

“He never asked for trouble. He was just watching a game,” says his mother.

In Indonesia’s Football Fever, 101 East follows Indonesia’s die-hard football fans who fight, and sometimes die, for the love of the game.