Interview with an Indonesian Football Hooligan

Original name and club affiliation of speaker omitted for obvious reasons. When [Club] is written, it refers to the Football club the speaker supports. When [Rival Club 1 / 2] are written, it refers to the rival Football clubs of the fans of the speaker’s club.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in this post reflect the speaker alone and are not representative of the opinions and thoughts of From Boothferry To Germany or anybody involved or affiliated with From Boothferry To Germany. It should be understood that From Boothferry To Germany in no way condones hooliganism or related activities. Football Culture is in no way synonymous with hooliganism, but the former has occasionally been influenced by the latter throughout the sport’s modern history, which is why such a post is relevant for a Football Culture blog.

“Fans don’t care, I don’t care. [Club] plays Football, I fight with some supporters. In Indonesia, always the chairman close to the supporters because of politics. The big fans, the big people; “Hey you! I give you money because you are supporter. But you, you give me votes.” I think this is Indonesia.

In here, my friends have knives. We go to the stadium with knives, knuckle [dusters], in here (points to his leg) knockers…. like wood. Always with a knife, a small knife. Like a dagger. I can bring the big knife like this (points to his jeans), hiding. But then I have to walk like this! (Laughs and imitates a limp). In here [Indonesia], maybe last year my friend [and I] go to have a fight. Before this we always had open fights. [Rival Club 1] and [Club] fans are always going with knives. Always. Always like this. When [Club] fans go to [Other City], they go through [Rival City 1] with car, with bus. Always fight with [Rival Club 1]. With knives, with stones.

You need to say “stop the knives”.

We cannot. We always say “open fight”. But we fight [without weapons]? We lose. I have here, here, here (shows scars on the back of his head, right forearm, across right knuckles).

Last year, [Club] and [Rival Club 2] fans, one [Rival Club 2] fan died. [Club] came back from the game and in [Rival City 2] they met and one [Rival Club 2] fan died. Because [Club] fans got a molotov [thrown at them] and a bomb with nails.

Why is there so much violence?

[Laughs] This is just our people. You can ask during history; Indonesians fight. Because it’s our educational background. Some people just finish high school, junior high school and then the poverty and also the unemployment…. That’s why people make chaos or make a kind of expression; from the unemployment.

Do you want it to change? Do you want to keep the aggression and this culture?

I keep the culture. Because I think when I fight for my club, we have many divisions. Divisions of singing, divisions of fighting, different part of the fans. I won’t change my culture. For me personally, I know that the people here are very close with violence, I think I could move the violence in this situation but I want to put a portion in the educational experience or educational knowledge in here [Indonesia].

Indonesian Football Hooligans

In here [Indonesia] we don’t have a place for supporters. Our government makes no facility. My king loves Golf. He doesn’t love Football. Not Football. In the past our King doesn’t want to put the attention for one of these clubs. [He] no longer puts Football as the priority. Unfortunately we don’t have a choice. When we walk away from Football, you don’t have an expression. When you leave these Football activities, what do you want to do? You just want to study but some friends are still here and still talking about Football. Why don’t you [just] choose the Football? If you just disappear from the Football, you don’t have a future, a meaning. We don’t have an option. We just follow.

The keyword is Casual. The first fans with Casual culture were in this street (where our conversation takes place). Their name was “Hooligans”. But we can think “why do fans make a name like hooligan at the time?”. We can see maybe they make reference from magazines because the internet was not really big at the time. Because in 1997 (after the death of former Indonesian President Suharto) we already get the Premier League for the first time. But the Italian league was also very popular at the time. In the beginning the Italian television make a live match, and then EPL, and then Italian again. In here, the group’s name is “Millwall”. [Club] fans named the group “Millwall”. It’s one of the funny things, the group took Millwall as their name. They see the club like Millwall, always fighting.

Malaysians look at Indonesians “so poor”. But Malaysians? So fucking small, small country. When I go to fight with you? Nothing. Indonesians looks at Malaysia as nothing. Not on the same level. Malaysians always claim Indonesian culture. “Batik is Malaysian”. Always. Our dream is to go to Malaysia and make chaos. I don’t know, somehow we have to try to make a chaos in Bukit Jalil in Malaysia. We have to make a fight with Ultras Malaya. We have to try it! We have to get point as fans [against] Ultras Malaya. More important than the players. The culture is like hooligans in Indonesia but they fight like Turkey, like Galatasaray with knives. In Malaysia? I don’t know. I will try.

In your country, if you fight in the stadium, go to prison. But in here, a fight in stadium, it’s okay! It’s no problem. No problem. When you commit robbery, you can have six months. But in here, fight in stadium? 1 day or 2 days [laughs]. Flare? No problem.”

As I sit, listening to the recording and writing this post, the low purr of engines and the wind rolling through dry leaves add a soft background to the young male voices speaking calmly about casual violence and use of weaponry. I am treated to a fantastic, chilled, grape-based liquor and delicate, fried spring rolls. The speaker is engaging, comfortable with eye contact and overall polite, courteous to my probing questions.

The speaker’s behaviour is at odds with the things he says about his “hobby”. I saw no inclination in his conduct at the time that would lead me to think that he has a penchant for hooliganism. Football hooliganism can and often should be considered as a social phenomenon, a product of social, political and economic factors, rather than a case of simply “bad people” fighting each other.


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