The strangeness of the Southeast Asian Games’ Indonesia-Malaysia football final

Unspun rarely follows football. Being a contrarian from childhood he shied away from football because it was what everyone else seemed to like. And so life passed for him with passion about teams like Liverpool and Manchester United seeming an amusing mystery to him.

But last night Unspun’s resolve on football weakened. After all, he reasoned, it is the finals of the SEA Games matches and it was Malaysia, land of Unspun’s birth against Indonesia, land of Unspun’s adoption. Being a wimp and preferring a soft sofa and air conditioned room to the excitement, sweat and body odor of crowds, Unspun elected to be a couch potato and watch the game on telly instead.

It seemed to Unspun a very strange game indeed and there were many things he could not understand, among them were:

  • Why did the Indonesian goalie seemed such an angry man? Was it necessary to be so dour and to scream and shout at his team mates to get something done? Did the shouting help one iota?
  • Why were there so many injuries? In the few times that Unspun’s watched the English premier League the players did not seem to get injured so much as both sides in yesterday’s game. Were they more underhanded, more unskilled or more more wimpish or all of the above?
  • How did the Malaysian winger Fakhri get away with so many fouls without getting a yellow card? And why wasn’t he substituted early on as he seemed a wreck from the start? (he missed a penalty as well in the end)

Unspun finds that he just doesn’t understand football. Perhaps there is some football fan out there that can enlighten me.

Unspun knows about bad news being stronger than good news though and in today’s newspapers and wire services the news that emerged was not Malaysia’s victory or the tensions and drama of the game, but the fact that two people died when fans rioted after failing to get into the stadium.

Apparently they went berserk after being jerked by the organizers who not only failed to inform them that the tickets had been sold out but instead asked them to return that afternoon to get their tickets – only to have them encountering empty ticket booths.

Strange game this, football.

BBC News – Two die at Indonesia-Malaysia football match stampede.

The match was plagued by problems, including overcrowding in the stadium

Two football fans have been killed during a stampede at a match between Indonesia and Malaysia.

The teams were playing in the final of the South East Asian Games in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Many fans had been left angry and frustrated because they could not get a ticket to watch the match, in the 80,000-seater Bung Karno stadium.

Reports said a large group of fans rushed the stadium in a bid to get in without tickets, causing the stampede.

There had been outbreaks of trouble for days before the match.

Groups of supporters set a ticket booth on fire on Sunday and attacked offices at the stadium.

Malaysian officials said they had to ask for armoured vehicles to take their team to the stadium because of the atmosphere surrounding the game.