Football riot in Sarawak

Football riot in Sarawak

A Malaysia Cup match between rivals Sarawak and Perak erupted into a riot when 2,000 Sarawak fans smashed cars and fought police after the match.

In the 11pm incident, unhappy supporters threw firecrackers and flares while others vandalised advertisement boards.

The violence started after Sarawak's 1-1 draw with Perak on Saturday evening, reported the New Straits Times.

Perak fans had been asked to stay away from Saturday's match while the Football Association of Malaysia investigated allegations of racism, local media reported.

Sarawak said their players were abused by one of the Perak team officials, while the club added that home fans targeted their winger S. Chanturu in last Wednesday's 2-0 Malaysian Cup defeat in Ipoh, reported Reuters.

Sarawak had said it would be best if Perak supporters did not attend Saturday's Group B match in Kuching.

After the match ended, fans gathered outside and blocked the main gates to prevent the Perak team bus from leaving Kuching's Sarawak State Stadium.

The Star's photographer Zulazhar Sheblee, who was covering the match, witnessed the chaos.

"It was right after the final whistle at 11pm when it all started. Spectators inside the stadium threw bottles, firecrackers and even parts of the fence at the pitch.

"The first of the rioters on the pitch kicked and damaged the advertisements. Outside the stadium, a crowd that had gathered broke through the main gates. By then, the Federal Reserve Unit was deployed," Mr Zulazhar said.

'Light scuffles'

He said it took about three hours for crowds to disperse and calm to return.

"I managed to exit the stadium at around 2am. There were still some light scuffles going on," he said.

A Sarawak fan, who declined to be named, said the supporters were unhappy with Perak because of the previous incident.

"They attacked our fans first during the match in Perak last month. We need to know why they did that," said the supporter.

One police car was set on fire and six were badly damaged by the angry fans.

About 300 police personnel were sent to the scene and they used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd.

Kuching Deputy police Chief Superintendent Fauzilan Abdul Aziz confirmed the case. Five men aged between 17 and 20 were arrested during the riot.

"All five...are still under investigation and police remand," said Supt Fauzilan.

Efforts to contact the Sarawak Football Association were unsuccessful.

This article was published on Sept 1 in The New Paper.

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