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Indonesia league skirts blame over deaths
Indonesia's rebel league has refused to take the blame for deadly clashes between fans of two of the country's fiercest rivals, saying it wasn't clear they were fighting over football.
The breakaway Super Liga, whose launch last year threw Indonesian football into turmoil, said it wouldn't immediately shoulder responsibility after three people died after a game on Sunday.
Sunday's incident follows the deaths of two fans in a stampede at the same stadium, Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno, in November, and comes after FIFA threatened to suspend Indonesia for failing to rein in the Super Liga.
Fighting broke out after Persija Jakarta's 2-2 draw against Persib Bandung in front of a packed house of 80,000 fans at Gelora Bung Karno, which is Indonesia's biggest stadium.
Three people died and five were seriously injured as fans pelted each other with rocks and bricks outside the venue. But the Super Liga attempted to distance itself from the violence.
"We organised the match but we will only say it's our fault if it's proven that they were fighting over football," senior Super Liga official Syahril Taher told AFP.
"The clash happened after the match outside the stadium, so we will have to investigate what caused it before we can say we are responsible."
Jakarta police said they would tighten restrictions on issuing match permits. A spokesman told the Jakarta Globe future games between the two teams may be held at either an empty Gelora Bung Karno, or at a neutral venue.
"Those two clubs? fans have a long history of violence," senior commander Rikwanto told the newspaper.
Meanwhile the official Indonesian football association or PSSI, which has been handed a June 15 deadline to bring the Super Liga into line or risk a FIFA suspension, laid the blame squarely with the breakaway league.
"The Super Liga's matches have always been chaotic with players fighting and supporters beating each other up," association official Rudolf Yesayas said.
"We knew this was bound to happen and had raised our objections with the police as well as the youth and sports ministry last December."
The weekend tragedy was just the latest incident at Gelora Bung Karno after the fatal crush at the Southeast Asian Games final in November, when thousands of fans without tickets barged their way into the stadium.
Last September, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was forced to leave an international match when fans let off fireworks in the stands and lobbed bottles at Bahrain's players after they scored.
Indonesia has long been in trouble with FIFA over corruption allegations and a damaging leadership tussle at the PSSI. They were also at the centre of a match-fixing probe after February's 10-0 World Cup qualifying loss in Bahrain.
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