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Without spectators, Indonesia holds rematch between clubs involved in deadly stampede

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Muhammad Iqbal of Persebaya FC celebrates scoring during a match against Arema FC held with no spectators present at a stadium which is located near the headquarters of Indonesia's national police force and is surrounded by the police academy, in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 11, 2023. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

The rematch of an Indonesian soccer game that ended in one of the world’s worst stadium stampedes last year was played on Tuesday with no spectators present.

Fierce rivals Persebaya and Arema FC last met in October 2022 when the match ended in a crush in which 135 people were killed. Many died as they fled for the exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd – a control measure banned by world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

“The match is without spectators, according to the permit issued by police,” Persebaya said on its Instagram account.

Persebaya, who are seventh in the top-flight Liga 1 standings, won 1-0 after Muhammad Iqbal scored in the 79th minute. Eleventh-placed Arema missed a penalty in the 97th.

A Reuters photographer inside the stadium said only a few media and club officials plus security guards were sitting on the benches watching the game. Hundreds of policemen were on guard outside the stadium, some of them carrying tear gas.

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The stadium is located near the headquarters of Indonesia’s national police force and is surrounded by the police academy.

Speaking after the match, Arema manager Joko Susilo said some of his players were still traumatised by last year’s stampede and could not play on Tuesday.

Persebaya Surabaya football club supporters carry candles during a vigil at Tugu Pahlawan, after a riot and stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium following a soccer match between Arema vs Persebaya Surabaya, in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, October 3, 2022, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Didik Suhartono/ via REUTERS

“We prepared our tactics or any technical issues but mentally it’s very difficult,” said Joko.

Dozens of Persebaya supporters gathered outside the stadium during the match. Riding motorbikes, they escorted a bus that carried Persebaya players exiting the stadium.

Indonesian soccer has grappled with a range of issues in recent months. In March, the country was stripped of its right to host the under-20 World Cup after outrage among politicians in the predominantly Muslim nation about Israel’s participation.

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FIFA then froze development funds allocated for the country’s football association as a sanction.

Tuesday’s Persebaya-Arema match was supposed to take place in early March but was postponed by police due to persistent concerns over fan rivalries and crowd control issues.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Other Leagues

Exciting photo-finish in some of Africa’s top leagues

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The curtains have officially closed across most African domestic championships, with a few gradually approaching the business end of their football calendars.

With a place in next season’s CAF Inter-club competitions on the cards for the best finishers and national cup winners, CAFOnline takes a look at some of Africa’s top leagues, with some having concluded and a few nearing the finish line in what will be a photo-finish to their respective seasons.  

Algeria – Ligue 1

MC Alger are the new champions of Algerian football after dethroning former champions, CR Belouizdad.

Alger clinched their 8th title in what was one of their best performances in the championship. The newly crowned champions finished 12 points ahead of Belouizdad with an impressive 65 points that sees them secure a place in next season’s TotalEnergies CAF Champions League.

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Ghana – Ghana Premier League

History was made in the Ghana Premier League this season after Samartex, who were in their second season in top-flight football were crowned champions of Ghana.

The club sent shockwaves across Ghana with an impressive 61-point finish that saw them clinch the first ever title with an impressive 10-point gap between them and Accra Lions.

Medeama, who won the title last season finished a disappointing 8th place with 49 points.

Morocco – Botola Pro

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It was an exciting photo-finish to the Botola Pro in Morocco which was decided on the very last day of the season.

Raja Casablanca dethroned AS Far as Moroccan champions after clinching the title in style with a commanding 3-0 win over MCO Oujda on the very last day of the championship.

The two-horse race between Raja and FAR Rabat who were edged by the champions by a mere point, despite their 2-0 win over FUS Rabat.

Tanzania – Tanzania Premier League

Young Africans will be back in the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League next season after their successful title defence of the Tanzanian Premier League title.

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Yanga, as the Tanzanian giants are affectionately known cruised to a record-extending 31st league title, finishing with a healthy 11-point gap over second placed Azam FC who finished the season on 69 points alongside Simba SC.

South Africa – Premier Soccer League

Mamelodi Sundowns rubber-stamped their authority as the most successful club in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League after clinching an impressive seventh successive league title, making them the most successful club in the league with 17 league titles in total.

Sundowns’ rivals and former African champions, Orlando Pirates will make a return to the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League after finishing second behind Sundowns.

Meanwhile, the race for the title continues in Tunisia and Egypt with Esperance leading the pack in Tunisia’s Ligue 1, while Pyramids occupy the driver’s seat in the Egyptian Premier League

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-CAF

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Behold! World longest penalty shootout as 56 kicks are taken

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Israel’s SC Dimona and Shimshon Tel Aviv have set a world record for the longest ever penalty shootout with 56 kicks.

Their semi-final promotion playoff in the third-tier finished 2-2 after extra time, leading to penalties.

Dimona won the shootout 23-22 after each side took 28 penalties, opens new tab in the city of Dimona in the Negev desert on Monday.

The previous record of 54 penalty kicks was set in March 2022 in England when Washington beat Bedlington 25-24 during a first-round tie in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.

The competition is open to clubs competing in the Northern League Second Division – the 10th tier of the football pyramid.

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-Reuters

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Brazil great Ronaldo selling stake in boyhood club Cruzeiro

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Brazil great Ronaldo has agreed to sell his majority stake in Cruzeiro, the club where he made his senior debut, the Brazilian Serie A team announced on Monday.

Ronaldo, 47, agreed with BPW Sports company to sell the 90% stake he acquired in 2021 for $70 million through his company Tara Sports Brasil.

No details were given on how much BPW Sports are paying for the stake.

The former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid forward helped clear the club’s $195 million debt and led their return to the domestic top flight in 2022 after three seasons in Serie B.

However, a recent run of poor results sparked criticism and led to some fans to call for his departure.

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“Ronaldo and BPW Sports signed an agreement to acquire all the shares of Tara Sports Brasil, the company that owns 90% of Cruzeiro SAF,” the club said in a statement.

“(Ronaldo) led an administration that brought a new perspective to the club, implementing professional management and a governance structure in line with international best practice.

“Cruzeiro’s credibility was restored, attracting important partners and sponsors, with contracts that set record figures for the club.”

Ronaldo, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994 and 2002, will continue to serve as a member of Cruzeiro’s board of directors upon approval of the deal by Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense, the club added.

Ronaldo made his professional debut with Cruzeiro as a 16-year-old in 1993 before going on to become one of the best strikers in world football.

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“A mix of feelings hit me today, but above all, the feeling of fulfilment,” he told a news conference. “It’s impossible not to remember when I took on the great challenge of buying Cruzeiro.

“We’ve faced many challenges, the majority of which we’ve overcome. We’ve stumbled along the way, but today I can say that I’m handing Cruzeiro over with a sense of having done my duty, given that the club’s situation was very precarious.”

Ronaldo now looks set to sell his 51% stake in Spanish second-tier side Real Valladolid.

“Valladolid is next,” he told reporters.

-Reuters

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Soccer great, Ronaldo presents to Sports Village Square publisher, Kunle Solaja a miniature World Cup trophy as acknowledgement of achievement for coverage of nine World Cup editions

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