Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Death of Indonesian Supporters (Part II): Socio-Political Explanation

Oleh Darmanto Simaepa

'The new violence' in Indonesian football is more closely related with the two-parallel important aspect of the contemporary of Indonesian socio-politicis, which are the dynamics of local politics in post-New Order regime and the localized of the global football culture. The socio-politic circumstance is myriad term and its work in various ways. Even more, the Indonesia politic situation influences the pattern of organization of supporters and then the violence that they dispose. Two examples in the New Order regime and Reform Era (Era Reformasi) will help us to explain the influence of political condition for the behaviour and pattern of football fighting and violence.

First, the New Order regime deployed the floating mass concept to create an anti-politic mass that suitable for idea of development (Schwartz 1994). People expressed their voice through the quasi-democracy party once in five year but they were not allowed to express their identity and political question. The state announced that people should avoid discussing politics through warn of the matter of ‘SARA’ (ethnicity, religion, races). Local expression and political un-rest will be blamed as anti-nationalism by Jakarta-based central government. However, football fills the niche of socio-political expression and local identity through a local football association (Perserikatan or Persatuan Sepakbola). The football association generally has a long history in the provincial level, even since the colonial periods (Palupi 2004, PSSI 2000, 1980).

The association teams, which were not dependent on the whims of sponsor, attracted larger supporters who identifying football team as a part of their identity. The Stadium is the space that people can express their local identity, mainly base on provincial or city such as Surabaya (Persebaya), Jakarta (Persija), Bandung (Persib) and others. The local association-base competition continued a long standing city matches at the national level with qualifying round as it was in pre-independence. It is not surprise when the local association-base competition was popular than professionals league (GALATAMA) (Colombijn: 287).

The supporters linked with their team through locality and the association teams attracted larger fans and built a loyal follower. Each association have loyal supporters and they create rivalry with other association fans from different provinces. The violence had occurred when the local association playing final or semi-final match in Jakarta. A sizeable group of supporters from Surabaya or Semarang followed their team when their team won and played until final. The dividing line in these fights and violence patterns is not based ethnicity but the original’s place. Although the violence caused fatal damaged for infrastructure and transportation, there was no massive victims. The supporters use violence and football as expressing their local identity that was pressed by state authority.

Second, the violence in the latest periods of the New Order regime was associated with the loosing of state authority and control. It obviously worked for the football riots during the upheaval periods in Indonesia history during the years of the reformasi (1997-2001). The declining state authority made supporters lose their respect for state apparatus, both of the military and the police. The Bonek, special name for Surabaya-based supporters, is the excellent example to explain how the state loses their control over the society. The Bonek became a national issue when they caused serious damaged and intimidated their rivals in Jakarta. In 1997, the military could handle the Bonek in Jakarta and they shipped the Bonek to Surabaya with military boat. However, during 1998-1999, the military and the police could not manage the Bonek. The department of transportation could not provide sufficient transportation when the Bonek visited Jakarta to support their team in the final match.

However, the Bonek was not the only case in that period, while the violence also happened in Outer Island such as Makasar, Bali, and Medan as well as in Papua. In 1998-1999, the league cancelled because the military authority could not guarantee for security issue for all match across Indonesia stadium. For fourth years (1997-2001), 17 supporters were killed in the stadium, but this numbers probably more than officially reported. More than 50 matches were played without visitors to avoid the violence. The significant numbers of violence across Indonesia during the reformation era reveals that there is no reason to treat the Bonek or other group of supporters as special category such as hooligans in Europe (Amstrong 1996). The rise of violence and appearing of the Bonek were influenced by the generally declining respect for state authority which mark in the turbulence time in Indonesia history. The Bonek case reveals that football riots in Indonesia during the reformasi era was interwoven with the socio-political situation.

The continuity and change of Indonesia politics play important role in football games and contribute to pattern of the supporter’s behaviour and violence. For example, the decentralization process gives the district and provincial level a greater political authority. The head of district position is the important jobs that invite the competition and battle of local power. The term the ‘son of native’ (putra daerah) became popular as the tools to assert political gain. At the same time, the relation of patron-client politics with Jakarta-based oligarch is also important for the sources of politics (Nordholt 2002, Aragon 2007). With the direct election system, the mass that was forgotten in the new Order Regime becomes an important source of power. Obviously, football that is the most popular sport in this country attracts political actors across the region to grab it. Football supporters provide a political mobilization in the election for the head of district of province.

It is not surprise when there is a common phenomenon of mushrooming district-base club football. A lot of political actors exert a football club to give a new identity for their region and benefit for their political attempt. For instance, Kediri became important district when the Persik won Indonesian league twice in early 2000s. Before Persik lifted the trophy, Kediri is unfamiliar district in the map of Indonesian’s life. Several distric such as Lamongan in East Java, Wamena in Papua, Sigli in Aceh and many others that are not recognised by Indonesian public following Kediri’s strategy. Suddenly, those district are discussed in the headline of the national newspaper when their team buy an expensive player or play a fine style of football.

The emerging of district-base club has increased because the district parliament and the executive spend a lot of money for their club. A significant of public expenditure is allocated year to year to recruit foreign players and coaches, to renovate the stadium, and to pay local players. Most of the local legislative (DPRD) agree to pouring money to the club through APBD (Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Daerah) scheme. The careers of many political actors in the districtt level depend on their ability to feed the club and make enjoy local-base supporters. Likewise, the resident of the region and supporters enjoy the new identity regarding their football team. They press the politician to spend more money to improve their club and buying a good player.

Football and politics are two pictures in the same coin. When the issue of corruption, conflict, and money politics are attached the wheel of league in Indonesia, it is revealed the practice and life of political system in the post-decentralization policy. For instance, the Indonesian Corruption Watch’s (ICW) report (2010) shows that the corruption was found in the practice of issuing public expenditure for football club in four provinces. The practice of corruption linked with the key figures of political system in those regions. Having said, football organized reflects practice of politic; conversely, politic system reflects the football.

Admittedly, the club and the football association are the important institution to gain political benefit. Different parties have contested the control of association football. Politicians have used football as a vehicle for their personal career and as instrument for their political claim. The representative teams are a matter of concern to the leader, be they of the district, province, and village as well as in national level. It is common phenomena when the head of district (Bupati) and Mayor City (Walikota) also the head of football club. In the case of Indonesia, the control over football supporters and club determines succeeded of economical benefit and political career (Colombijn 2001: 184-86).

The head of district that successfully created a promised club and made supporters enjoy the match, in almost all case, won the district general election. From 26 teams that played in the Indonesian Super League during 2004-2010, 17 of them were led by the head of district, governor, and Mayor city (or their deputy), and 15 of them won the election in that periods. The incumbent, who lead the club, used their power to build loyalty among the supporters as important of political sources. They use their ‘client’ to manage and control over group of supporters. The head of a group supporter is usually proponent of political figures who hold the top position of the club.

Without question, football association and group of supporters are the space for different parties struggled for powers. Longstanding internal conflict over Indonesia Football Association (PSSI), dualism of league and the media wars over football organization reflect the battle and claims of football authority. In the same way, almost all supporters divided along the historical and political lines. For examples, in Padang, the supporters of Semen Padang split into two groups the Spartac and the Kmers. In Lamongan, the LA Mania divided in two two major groups and several small group of supporters because disagreement of their leaders about political choise for next distric election. The similar story, at least, occurred across Indonesia, from Jakarta and Surabaya and Ujung Pandang.

At the same time, football became important sports in the daily life of Indonesian. In the last decade, global football relatively made a successs to intrusive the daily life of Indonesia people. It could not isolate from the success of a marketing strategy. World cup, European tournament, and Champion League have delivered freely to the family room of millions Indonesian. Indonesian also enjoys the match from England, Italy, and Spanish league in a weekly basis because the cigarette companies pay for advertisement.

The Indonesian football fans intensively connected with football events around the world through newspaper as well as social media such as the twitter and the facebook. Internet technology make easy for supporters to build alliance with global fans. Several European big clubs, such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Milan, Juventus for a few name, create local supporter in Indonesia. There are common picture when Indonesian fans watching their national team wearing jersey, scarf or flag of European club. It is not incidentally that the throwed-conveti from the supporter in Argentinian or Brazilian stadium is found in the small stadium in Sleman or Bantul. Moreover, a lot of Indonesia club have a more European name such as Batavia Union, Mataram City, Cikarang United, and Semarang FC and so on. In the same way, the football league in national level has increase.

In the last decade, Indonesian football association tried to manage a professional league with an international standard. Certainly, the standard of security, stadium facilities, and referee is increase. The league receives a lot of money from the sponsor, especially from the cigarettes industries and television royalty. Every week, women and children come and watch the football match, and it is the common panoramic on the TV screen. Family use the stadium as the recreation sites on the weekend. Remarkably, Indonesia was success to manage the Asian cup in 2007. The venue in Jakarta and Palembang is full of spectators, and it makes the Asian Football Association (AFC) and world football organization (the FIFA) praised Indonesian football organization (PSSI) for organizing the tournament. In addition, the Indonesian national team also success to shows excellent performance and a million of Indonesian fans proud at that moment.

As far as Indonesian football fans in general is concerned, the globalization of football culture play important role in the contemporary social life of supporters. The globalization of football is not just appearing in the English name of the club, costum and syal, but also obviously and deeply influences the behaviour of supporters. Just recently, the scenery in Indonesian stadium is full of supporters who singing a special song for their club and their favourite players. The group of youth in small stadium wear a shirt with Italian word that expressed a spirit of the ultras, a popular term for fanatic football fans. Meanwhile, the huge-blues flag in the air is impress the visitors as in European stadium.

The group of Indonesian supporters both in the rural and urban area deploy military-sounded term such as the ulras, the curva, the delije, and the brigade for their groups. The curva and the ultras refer the group of loyal supporters in Italia (Podaliri & Balestri 1998: 89), while the delije and the brigade are especially groups of supporter cum para-milita group who use violence, racist, and political alliance to intimidate their opponents in Balkan Peninsula during the post-Yugoslavian wars (Foer 2004: 18).

Certainly, there is not just the transfer of foreign name, but the Indonesia football fans also try to transfers European ‘sub-culture’. According one of the Brajamusti leaders, some of their members were sent to Argentina and Balkan Peninsula to learn about the culture of the Boca Junior and the Obilic supporters in 2009. They also develop a communication with European group of supporters through social media, facebook, twitter, and yahoo messenger.

The PSS Sleman’s supporters send an email regularly to their college in Italian and East Europe to gain detailed information about organizing supporters. These alliances remain the story of Croatian club supporters made a global friendship with English hooligan in early 1990 (Kuper 1994: 17). Surprisingly, local supporters in Indonesia use more the idioms which are linked with fanatical supporters across the world. They also learn and appreciate the methods of violence that was used by group of fanatical supporters in Serbia and other place.

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