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Aremania, taming unruly fans

Aremania, taming unruly fans

JP/ Wahyoe BoediwardhanaMighty-heart fans: Supporters of Arema  Malang soccer club, who call themselves as Aremania, sing on the street  in Malang to raise funds for the cast-strapped club. JP/ Wahyoe  Boediwardhana

JP/ Wahyoe BoediwardhanaMighty-heart fans: Supporters of Arema Malang soccer club, who call themselves as Aremania, sing on the street in Malang to raise funds for the cast-strapped club. JP/ Wahyoe Boediwardhana

By the end of last year, Yuli Sugianto and 10 of his friends were singing around the streets of Malang, East Java. Starting from Kota Baru Station, they continued around the town square and the Arjosari bus terminal before they ended up in front of city hall.

The supporters of Arema soccer club, who call themselves Aremania, were also beating a bass drum while singing. Several others carried a banner that read “Save Arema”, while the rest were holding out boxes to motorists who extended money in return.

Their fundraising was part of the “Rp 10,000 Movement from Aremania for Arema”, an effort to help the soccer club management out of financial difficulty.

Yes, Aremania is different from the unruly supporters of Surabaya’s Persebaya soccer club known as bonek. Aremania is considered a role model for other soccer fans.

This was proven after the group received an award for model supporters in 2000 and the “Best Supporter” award in the 2006 Copa Indonesia.

However, Aremania were not always ideals supporters and their journey has not necessarily been easy.

Between 1987 to 1990, Arema supporters were still infamous as the twin of British soccer hooligans.

But in the late 1990s, they began to realize they needed to change their unruly ways.

Arema supporters started to calm down when the club joined the Indonesia League (Ligina) as a replacement for the Galatama soccer competition.

The changing character of supporters nicknamed “Singo Edan” (crazy lion) was triggered by the realization they had to give “something back” to the team they loved.

“We wanted to be different. If we want Arema to be a tough team, then we as supporters should also do the best for our team. For example, by buying a ticket while watching the game and not rioting. All the good things,” Fuad Ardiansyah, the Aremania coordinator, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Yuli Sugianto, the coordinator of Aremania in Sumpil, Malang, also agreed.

To help the cash-strapped Arema in the 2009-2010 ISL competition, he and other friends took to the streets to collect donations for the team. Yuli also took the initiative to open a savings account at Bank BRI for anyone who wanted to contribute to the Arema team.

The savings account is not held by him, but the bank, so as to allay any public doubt.

Aremania is deliberately formed as a loose organization. This means that there are no top leaders in the group. According to Fuad, this system has encouraged unity between Aremania supporters.

The leaders of Aremania are area coordinators, responsible for organizing supporters in their respective regions. Thus a problem is dealt with by the respective coordinator.

The coordinators’ duties are varied, ranging from sending messengers to the city of destination, screening Aremania tours, buying tickets and coordinating transport and accommodation. After the game is over, the committee is disbanded and returns directly to each coordinator, of which there are 300 inside and outside of Malang.

Each coordinator has the right to speak to the public through the media, but the statement musts be accounted for. If not, then they will be “judged” by Aremania supporters.

In this way, it’s very difficult for free riders or interest groups to take over Aremania. They have an unwritten rule to uphold the good name of Aremania. For those who violate the rule, they can be excluded from the community and boycotted by Aremania supporters and denied ration tickets.

However, he did acknowledged that there were times when Arema supporters caused trouble during soccer games, such as a game at Brawijaya Stadium in Kediri, when Arema competed in the 8th round of Ligina three years ago.

Fuad, who is also the manager of the Sekar Tanjung milk industry cooperative in Pasuruan, hopes all parties, especially the All Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), understand that hooligans must calm down if Indonesia wants to have a progressive football competition.

“The PSSI must firmly support the change. It’s should start from the PSSI. The PSSI must punish the perpetrators of violence and the referees should be really fair,” he said.


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