ASLI Working Paper Series

Publication Title Prosecuting Sports Violence: The Indonesian Football Case
Publisher Asian Law Institute
Series WPS019
Publication Date Feb 2011
Author/Speaker Topo Santoso
This paper focuses on the implementation of criminal law provisions (particularly those relating to crimes against the person) to incidences of violence in contact sports such as football. There is considerable debate over the question of whether the criminal law should be invoked in such cases. On one side of the debate are those who reject the use of the criminal law and prefer to use the so-called ‘lex sportiva,’ or internal sports regulations. On the other side are those who consider the criminal law to be an appropriate tool for dealing with the most egregious cases. In Indonesia, there is uncertainty about the way in which law enforcement officials should handle cases of sports violence. The criminal law is rarely invoked in such situations, and the standards of the system of criminal justice are ambiguous. To date, only one incident involving sports violence has reached the courts – in the form of the two connected cases of Nova Zaenal and Momadao. The two sides of the debate have been polarized by these cases, with one side denying that the law should ever be applied to incidences of on-pitch violence, and the other failing to provide clear guidelines with respect to when it is appropriate for the criminal law to intervene. This paper considers the relevant cases, together with the five considerations applicable to any incident of sports violence, as laid down in R v Barnes, ie: 1) the type of sport; 2) the level at which it is being played; 3) the nature of the act and the degree of force used; 4) the extent of the risk of injury; and 5) the state of mind of the defendant. The paper concludes that while it is probably impossible to establish general limits in terms of acceptable conduct, it is possible to determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not these five criteria have been satisfied.
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