Bonek Football Hooligans

Jan 26th, 2010, in News, by

BonekThe shame of Indonesian football, Bonek, Persebaya Surabaya supporters, run amok.

Bandung via Solo

Thousands of supporters of Persebaya Surabaya football club, known as bondo nekat, or bonek for short, travelled to Bandung, West Java on the KA Pasundan train on 22nd January, to see their heroes go down 4-2 to Persib Bandung.

Their journey was plagued by accidents and violence, with three supporters falling to their deaths from the train. The supporters, most of whom had not paid for tickets, threw rocks at passing houses, stole food from vendors at train station stops, and generally ill-behaved.

At Jebres station in Solo, Central Java, their throwing of rocks at homes in a nearby housing estate caused residents to return fire, and a rock throwing battle royale ensued, with dozens injured. l6

Journey Home

The journey back from Bandung, in a specially provided, Bonek only, service, was a mixed affair. Upon entering the Yogyakarta district supporters of PSS Sleman were moved, for unknown reasons, to give the Bonek parcels of food and drinks.

However on arrival at Jebres station the Bonek were set upon by thousands of people who had gathered in wait, and who threw rocks and caused about 70 people to seek medical treatment. Police were forced to fire warning shots in the air to disperse the crowds.

Bonek Solo
The Battle of Solo

Upon their return to Surabaya the local government prepared about 2,000 rice meals to hand over to the Bonek on their arrival at Wonokromo, Gubeng, and Semut train stations, to forestall any hunger driven rioting/stealing. Trucks were also provided, to transport the Bonek safely back to their home neighbourhoods.

Damage Bill

Train company PT Kereta Api puts the damages and vandalism bill at 750 million rupiah, or about $75,000, with a further 250 million rupiah from lost ticket sales, as almost none of the Bonek travellers bought tickets, and is currently in somewhat confused negotiations with the government of East Java province over compensation.

81 Comments on “Bonek Football Hooligans”

  1. molceonly says:

    I think what we should do is to ban the team to play or even disqualify them if necessary. because for some what reason this hooligan were became a part of the team existences.

    maybe with that, the hooligan will think twice before they ruin the team life.

  2. ET says:

    I always thought football hooliganism was a western – more precisely British – phenomenon.
    Shame on you, Raffles.

  3. madrotter says:

    well this is how war started in former yugoslavia, hoolies fighting hoolies. i’m not at all surprised and i forsee a lot more like this, and a lot bigger too. what do they have to offer kids here these days? when you’re a hooligan you’re part of a family, you’re fighting for something plus you have a way to vent your anger about not having any future at all. plus it’s always fun throwing a brick in a cops face. i’m not saying that i agree with all this i’m saying there’s a reason behind all this. where can kids go with their frustrations here? what have they seen since the old mass murderer stepped down? nothing but lies, corruption, president after president betraying their trust. working like a slave for 70 dollars a month and that’s if they’re lucky…

    i’ve got loads of friends back home in holland that are hardcore hooligans, i worked with some of the worst of ’em and for a lot of them the reasons are kind of simular, being stuck in some f*cked up job, living in some f*cked up area. go to the south of rotterdam, go to the bijlmer in amsterdam you’ll understand what i’m saying…

  4. Burung Koel says:

    I travelled on a few ‘football specials’ in the bad old days of British hooliganism. Police escorts to and from the ground, segregated terracing etc

    BR’s solution was to stop running special trains. If some fans are hell bent on getting into a fight, then why herd them all together? PNKA might want to reflect on that experience.

    The wider picture has involved better ground security and facilities, preventative policing (involving intelligence gathering amongst rival gangs) and the rising costs of tickets and travel, which have reduced hooliganism in the top divisions in Europe. These are things that football administrators and the police in Indonesia will have to think about, too.

  5. Hi All,

    To Madrotter,

    Yes, destroying state-owned train station property: that will surely make one’s prospects better.

    But perhaps, given your many hoolie mates, could you give us an insight into the wanton theft of food from poor vendors and or smashing of windows and other buildings in poor villages ?

    Nothing says I support the team like flipping a car and setting it on fire.

    Yes, the Bonek do so much to help their country, or even their sport. What can be more sporting than lynching an umpire when your team loses a game ? What can be more manly than attacking – with rocks, clubs, or whatever, anyone you feel like ?

    Hidup Bonek !

  6. Ross says:

    Usually I find a certain common ground with madrotter and am at odds with Achmad, but not tonight.
    These thugs have absolutely no excuse for assaults on innocents and destruction of public and private property.

    I’m amazed at Surabaya offering them snacks as a reward for their evil conduct.

    Better to have the evidenttly ineffectual police escort arrest them at gunpoint and order public floggings and or hard labour for a whole football season.

  7. madrotter says:

    you don’t understand what i’m saying, i’m saying that a lot of the youth here are not getting proper guidance anymore, people are getting poorer and poorer, come on we all complain about the state of indonesia these days all the time here, how do you think life is here when you’re young and unemployed? i think there’s no excuse for what all these kids did, i think it’s terrible, but i see this stuff happening in bandung all the time and it’s getting bigger and bigger, you’re not talking about a few hundred fans of a club causing havoc like they do in europe, here you got thousands and thousands of kids going at it, cops here have no idea how to handle it and i’m saying there’s a reason for why it’s spreading like this. it reflects on the folks in charge here, their lack of being examples to learn from, their greed, their nihilism…

    and for the record, i think hooliganism is pretty stupid myself, i’ve seen plenty of it in rotterdam, never was involved in it, always thought it was pretty dumb…

  8. Odinius says:

    madrotter said:

    well this is how war started in former yugoslavia, hoolies fighting hoolies.

    Sort of. Hooligans were fighting hooligans during times of peace and prosperity there too, e.g. the 1970s. But they were indeed mobilized by radical nationalist parties and often formed the basis of the murdering militias that made the region famous in the 1990s.

    ET said:

    I always thought football hooliganism was a western – more precisely British – phenomenon.

    Probably more accurate to say it was originally a European thing. Just made famous by the British. Now? Global.

  9. berlian biru says:

    There’s a world of difference between explaining why something happens as madrotter did and excusing it, I didn’t read any excusing of the thuggish behaviour in what he said.

  10. berlian biru says:

    Madrotter’s comments have led me to post something here which I was originally going to post in the Artalyta thread but I was afraid it might be off topic, if Patung things this is off topic or perhaps worthy of a separate thread he can of course edit accordingly.


  11. @ Madrotter,

    Ok, sarcasm aside, could you share some cross-cultural insights into the mindset of a hooligan. I wasn’t taking a shot at you, just airing sarcasm on the stupidity of the bonek, a pet favorite of mine.

    Being young and unemployed sucks bad. As a male, who most of the bonek are, it basically means you can’t get married, which means you can’t get laid and have failed in your family’s eyes. The combination would be enough to make red-blooded, hormone driven young man go a bit crazy. I think bonek fit into the ‘riot demographic’ of 18-25. Anyone notice back in the days of rioting how whenever a big soccer game was on crime would go down and the streets would be safer ?

    How about a bonek reality show ? Liga Bonek ? Each big Indonesian city would send their own team of Bonek, say, 10,000 players to slog it out in a mediaeval-style battle.


    1. Boneks must wear their team t-shirt.
    2. Weapons will be issued by the federation (sponsored by Gudang Garam), including rocks and baseball bats.

    3. Play will go for 2 x 45 minutes
    4. Team with the most players left standing wins.

  12. Burung Koel says:


    1. Boneks must wear their team t-shirt.
    2. Weapons will be issued by the federation (sponsored by Gudang Garam), including rocks and baseball bats.

    3. Play will go for 2 x 45 minutes
    4. Team with the most players left standing wins.

    Ah, I miss the old days of watching Leeds versus Wimbledon.

    Seriously though, The Blue Diamond’s comment deserves a post of its own.

  13. ET says:


    Probably more accurate to say it was originally a European thing. Just made famous by the British.

    Not made famous, simply exported. I still have known the times one could simply attend a match, have a drink afterwards in the supporters café and that was it. The ball (no pun intended) started rolling when the English came en masse to attend the cup games on the continent.
    I don’t believe all this apologetic crap about frustrated and poor unemployed youngsters. If they are so poor how can they afford the train, even airplane tickets, to destinations all over the world just to create havoc? It’s just thugs looking for an opportunity to prove how tough they are and the phenomenon catched on because in the beginning nobody was prepared how to deal with it.

  14. madrotter says:

    well in europe yes, here they just go with the train without buying tickets…

  15. madrotter says:


    well, i used to work in a pretty wild cafe in rotterdam for about 5 years. you wouldn’t think it if you would see me now (13 years in indo suffering from tropical sprue the last 8 have robbed me of my former physique) but i was part of a bouncer team together with my buddy gijs who was one of the most imfamous feyenoord hooligans at the time. i was the smaller jiu jitsu guy choking you out if you were causing trouble he was the huge behemoth skullcracker breaking you in half. he’s forbidden to enter any footbal stadium for the rest of his life. also i worked for about 4 years in greenhouses all over holland growing that green stuff, my boss and most workers were all dedicated feyenoord hoolies. i’ve never understood hooliganism myself, always thought it was pretty useless, in holland they’re like gangs but they’re not making any profit out of it, plus i just don’t like violence, i like dancing, chasing skirts. in the five years i bounced i only had a handful of fights of which i’m not proud, people hitting people in the face with glasses or hitting women (you really have a problem with me if you go hitting ladies in the place that i work). the bargirls, some of whom loved to see action, the bloodier the better, were always complaining about the fact that i’d rather spent two hours coaching a guy out of the place talking instead of simply taking a bat to them. i’ve seen a lot of shit. been in a lot of shit… whatever… i worked with guys who would go out looking for folks sporting football tatoos and then cut these tatoos out. i can’t explain it but for them it’s like a narcotic rush, the violence, the feeling of belonging to this “family” and they’re scary for real. you never know on who they might turn, they’ll turn on their own if the pills and powders they took don’t mix well with the alcohol they took. i’ve seen guys banging their own heads into the bar till they were both a bloody mess only to see who is crazier (being known as the craziest is a badge of honor)…
    for me, saying they’re just thugs is too easy an explanation, specially now, it really has gotten quiet big in holland and it’s more violent then ever (as evidenced by a few pretty heavy incidents last summer in holland), even a lot of the older guys i talk to have turned away from it. i think that at the base a lot of the reasons are kind of simular to the reasons why it’s happening here in indonesia. people, especially younger people feel cut off, have no purpose in life, are stuck in shitty jobs (if they can find a job that is), in shitty relationships, come from broken homes, are influenced by what they see in movies and the internet, are bored out of their minds and they have no trust whatsoever in the elites, in the folks that should be stewarding this world to it’s betterment. instead they are bombarded with a never ending stream of news about global warming, terrorism, corruption, war, cancer, swine-flu, the ever growing devide between the haves and have-nots, immigration, camera’s on every street etc.

    remember woodstock 1? that incredible spontaneous love-fest and the last woodstock that ended up in flames and rape? same thing. it’s a sign of the times…

    i’m not very good at words, specially when writing them down, sorry, but i hope you can see a bit where i’m coming from with all this…

  16. bs says:

    As I live near Rotterdam, I can (sadly) confirm Madrotter’s story. Last year we even had hooligans trashing a beach party and en mass threathening the police. Some undercover officers where discovered, surrounded and outnumbered by far.
    This resulted in shooting and one dead hooligan.

    However, the difference is that the complaining, frustrated kids here can get a job. They are just too lazy too accept anything that doesn’t immediately make then director of some fancy company. Plenty of work to do in the harbour, they are jobless by choice if you ask me.

    While Surabaya as a harbour too, the number of jobless is way higher than the number of jobs (currently). I hope that changes. But I’m with Achmad and Ross. They should have set up the riot police at the train stations in Surabaya. Round the hooligans up and let them clean up mud in Sidoarjo for a week. With the treatment they got now, they’re probably planning their next free rioting trip.

  17. madrotter says:

    i agree with that. but what are you going to do when you’re talking about thousands upon thousands of youngsters going at it? and trust me, we’re getting there. than you’re not talking about a riot, you’re talking about a war

  18. madrotter says:

    shit rain’s coming, internet will be out again for a while…

  19. ET says:

    it’s a sign of the times…

    It’s indeed a sign of the times, the kali yuga as the Hindus call it.
    In the West it is basically a post WWII phenomenon that has been fuelled by the permissiveness preached by social reform movements of the 50ies and 60ies. This was taken over by the media and Hollywood and turned into the Rebel Without A Cause icon that became the emblem and role model for the modern day hero. In the beginning a reaction against the rigidity of societal rules it was picked up by the lower levels of society and degraded into an ‘anything goes’ attitude.
    I personally don’t believe – at least not in the west – hooliganism has anything to do with poverty or lack of opportunities as bs pointed out

    However, the difference is that the complaining, frustrated kids here can get a job. They are just too lazy too accept anything that doesn’t immediately make then director of some fancy company. Plenty of work to do in the harbour, they are jobless by choice if you ask me.

    but rather with an inability – as well on a personal as a societal level – to channel agression. A cynic would say that in order to put agression to good use we need another WW or Armageddon, first to get rid of excess ballast and afterwards to create new ideals and opportunities.

  20. @ Madrotter,

    Thanks for the post. Great story.

    I think that’d be worth expanding on — PM me if you’re interested – I can help with getting it into words – your words.

    We’d have to find a way to make it relevant to Indonesia – as in ‘Indonesia Matters’ – perhaps a meditation on violence, boneks, and frustration from a personal perspective.

    It might be useful to draw links between soccer hooliganism in Europe and in Indonesia as in compare and contrast. You’d be in a good position to do so.

    Theme of the piece would be violence as an outlet for frustration and gang identity. Look at your observations of Bonek & gangism in Bandung and with the Bonek & relate it to what you talked about.

    What do you think ? Patoengs ?

  21. Burung Koel says:

    Bill Buford’s a wanker, but you guys might find his book and it’s thesis on violence interesting:

    Among the Thugs

  22. David says:

    Sounds fine Achmad, Madrotter’s got a book inside him (I met him on the weekend, I managed to avoid the Bonek though, he took me around to the interesting nightspots of Bandung, nice).

  23. Patung,

    Can you post your ‘best of bandung’ somewhere ? I think it’s turning into one of Southeast Asia’s funnest and best-kept secrets.

  24. David says:

    Might need further research I think and unfortunately didn’t take photos really.

  25. Is Ok, Mr. Patoengs, The Friends. 😛

  26. madrotter says:

    nice link about this buford guy! that story of his about a hooligan biting out the eye of a cop isn’t true though and he admitted that later on and it wasn’t a bitten out eye, it was a sucked out eye (that wasn’t sucked out after all), talk about eye-candy!

    expanding on what part of the story achmad?

  27. ET says:

    A striking feature of hooligan violence is that in most cases it only takes place in gangs. For a part of my life I have been professionally involved with many members of the ’81’ brotherhood. Now despite all their tattoos and dangerous-looking macho appearance these guys taken one by one wouldn’t certainly pass for psychopaths. Some were even very nice and cordial chaps, eventually with families and children. This changed however once they took on their colours and went out riding together to gigs or rallies. Then they became under the spell of some weird group dynamic and from then on one could be certain that blood and bruises were on the menu.
    And it is also true that they had a lot of success with the women, even high class and educated ones. They were always surrounded by groupies which they called ‘sheep’ but that didn’t seem to bother them.

  28. Ross says:

    The Thirties i Glasgow and other Brtish cities had thousands of young, and not so young, citizens without jobs nor mch hope of gettin any, but whilst there were gangs who fought each other in the streets (read No Mean City) they did not, normally savage innocents nor go about destroying other people’s property just for the fun of it.

    Evil among young layabouts is not unique to Indonesia. Several trials recently in the UK have been almost too horrendous to read about, the case in Edington of two ‘children’ troturingand sexually abusing two slightly younger children being perhaps the worst.

    Again, the absence of punishment commensurate to the crime is clearly a reason for the way evil flourishes – I believe the Edington perps got five years, much the same way as ‘society’ protected the murderers of Jamie Bulger from any serious punishment.

    ‘Explaining’ vile misdeeds by reference to the perps’ social/economic background is edging towards a very thin line beyond which lies excusing them. These thugs may be poor and not very well educated, but they know that causing injury to others is wrong and damaging others’ belongings is wrong. Nor is evil restricted to the poor, as we can recall the dastardly young rich pig who murdered the Hilton waiter and got off too lightly by far. He too deserved, and still deserves, draconian measures, as did that slug who ran amok at the JIS sports event and was not dragged to court for punishment.(though his snout got caught in corruption and he did serve time, not a lot, for that.)

    A lack of moral fibre among those in charge in the pursuit of justice is evident, and not only among locals. Why have JIS, for example, never come forward to explain the failure to prosecute?

  29. Frank-cfc says:

    Having grown up watching Chelsea in the 70s and 80s I have a fairly good idea of what Hooliganism was about. I agree with a lot of what Madtrotter said most of it is about disillusioned young men who feel they have no real say in their countries or no hope of a better life. However this is not always the only reason, there is of course the one true fact that these people just loved the thrill of a good ruck, and the freedom and power it gave them. I know for a fact that many a wealthy business man who during the week would work in the financial districts central London and then come the weekend would partake in mindless yob violence, not for any economic (no job, no money, etc) reasons but just purely for the thrill of being part of a gang that was on the whole anarchist in its mind set and hell bent on kicking the crap out of another firm or crew.
    I do see the problem here part economic part political, but of course hooliganism and for all those who partake in it has always been fashionable and hell every country in the world who watches football has hooligans so why would the youth of Indonesia not want to take part too.
    Hooligans or Ultras whatever you want to call them, are never going to go away, but the problem can be seriously reduced as it has in the UK, but it takes a whole load of cash, and a government and football authorities that actually wants to do something about it.

  30. deta says:

    However, the difference is that the complaining, frustrated kids here can get a job. They are just too lazy too accept anything that doesn’t immediately make then director of some fancy company. Plenty of work to do in the harbour, they are jobless by choice if you ask me.

    I see this differently. The disparity between the wage of blue-collar and white-collar workers is too wide in Indonesia. With such damn exhausting works and small wages, inadequate to provide for their own lives let alone to support a family, no career planning, and in many cases no health facilities whatsoever, what can they expect? Sometimes being a manual worker doesn’t make any difference with being unemployed since the salary is only enough to cover for the meal and the transport to the work place. I don’t mean to compare, but there is a big difference between the wage of a manual worker who works like a dog with the wage of, say, a civil servant who works, well, inefficiently. No wonder if they become frustrated …..sorry, a bit out of the hooligan topic.

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