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Jakarta Post

Indonesia hit by FIFA ban

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, May 31, 2015   /  01:41 pm

World soccer governing body FIFA carried out its threat to ban Indonesia from international competitions after the government refused to lift a suspension imposed on the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI).

FIFA'€™s move against Indonesia was confirmed by PSSI deputy chairman Hinca Pandjaitan on the association'€™s website on Saturday.

Hinca had accompanied chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti to the FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, at which Sepp Blatter was re-elected as president for a fifth four-year term.

'€œIt'€™s a sad moment for us in Switzerland. FIFA has confirmed that Indonesia will be sanctioned for an indefinite period,'€ Hinca said.

The decision to suspend Indonesia was taken during an emergency meeting of the FIFA executive committee on Saturday.

However, FIFA is reported to have granted an exemption for Indonesian soccer team'€™s participation in the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore. The team, which left Jakarta on Saturday, is scheduled to play its opening match against Myanmar on Tuesday.

However, subsequently, Indonesian national teams and clubs will be banned from competing in all soccer tournaments.

The FIFA announcement came a day after President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo spoke out about his government'€™s stance on the PSSI, saying that the suspension was part of a broader attempt to reform Indonesian soccer.

'€œIt doesn'€™t matter if we are absent from international competitions for a while as long as we can win big in the future,'€ he told Antara news agency while visiting Manado, South Sulawesi, on Friday.

His remarks constituted firm support for Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi'€™s decision to suspend the PSSI in a decree imposed on April 17 despite FIFA'€™s threats and calls for its lifting from parties including Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Upon his return to Jakarta, Jokowi reasserted the urgent need to reform the PSSI.

'€œI want to highlight our [soccer] performance over the past ten years. I note that in 2002, 2006, 2010, we did not qualify for the World Cup, or for the Asian tournaments. At the AFC [Asian Football Confederation] in 2004 we only reached the first round, and again in 2007. In 2011 we did not qualify at the Asian level.

'€œTake a look at the FIFA rankings ['€¦] in 2012 we were number 156, 161 in 2013, 159 since last year,'€ he was quoted by as saying at Halim Perdanakusuma airport.

Indonesia escaped sanctions in 2012 when rival soccer associations, triggered by divisions over PSSI chairman elections, finally agreed to merge their competitions.

The current crisis springs from a disagreement between the sports ministry and the PSSI over clubs'€™ eligibility for the Indonesian Super League (ISL).

The PSSI refused to act on the ministry'€™s recommendations, made through the Indonesian Professional Sports Body (BOPI), that clubs Persebaya Surabaya and Arema Indonesia be excluded from the ISL because of ownership disputes.

Domestic competitions have ground to a halt since the suspension of the PSSI, and the crisis was also blamed for the cancellation of a match between Persipura Jayapura and Malaysia'€™s Pahang FA.

The two were to have played their AFC Cup round of 16 clash in Jayapura on May 26, but Pahang'€™s players, having arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, decided to fly back to Kuala Lumpur after their four non-Malaysian teammates were refused entry visas.

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