Malaysia's winning feat on Monday in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA) football final against Indonesia saw Indonesia's football fans taking the defeat in a poor spirit of sportsmanship.
It must have been heartbreaking for the 90,000 home fans in Indonesia to swallow Malaysia's victory as the match was deadlocked at 1-1, after extra time, and Malaysia won 4-3 on penalties. Both teams played well to their credit. However, Malaysia's squad must be given special credit for playing courageously despite the unruly crowd made up of Indonesian football fans and their relentless barracking of Malaysia's 'Harimau Muda' (Young Tigers).
Indonesia holds top place in the SEA games with more than 170 gold medals but the gold medal that its fans coveted most was the one for the under 23 football match. Unfortunately, Indonesia's dream to obtain it from Malaysia did not materialize. The dream has to be shelved for the next two years until the 27th SEA games is held.
Monday's match was quite an eventful one. Even before the game, fans had burned down a ticket booth after tickets for the match were sold out . A stampede left two dead and many injured in Gelora Bung Karno stadium . After the game,fearing the worst from the despondent fans, games officials brought in armored vehicles to escort the players out of the stadium.
For Indonesia, it is not just about losing, but it is about losing to Malaysia that is so hard to accept. But why is that so?
Why are games held? Is it to increase animosity between two countries? Never mind the fact that Malaysia is always there for Indonesia during the times when it is most hit by natural disasters or that Malaysia opens its doors for Indonesians to come here and make a living. We have been good neighbors; yet we are treated like enemies.
An Indonesian football fan, bitter over his country's defeat has issued a death threat over his twitter account , to Malaysian students studying in Padjadjaran University, Bandung. His message read : “Tomorrow I will kill Malaysian students at the University of Padjadjaran”. Investigations over the threat are ongoing.
Perhaps a few more volcano eruptions, earthquakes and another tsunami would keep Indonesians busy rather than eating their hearts out over a gold medal and a football match, won none other, than by a neighboring country, that shares so much in common with them.