Indonesian Football – An Archipelago of TroublePosted: May 21, 2012
Imagine the Premier League in all its glory. Now imagine the top 10 teams in the Premier League split away from the rest of the league, forming a new independent Super League, which both, wasn’t run by the FA, and wasn’t recognised by FIFA. An ordeal which could result in the England national team being banned from football if it wasn’t sorted out by the FA.
That is basically the best example I can give you to what exactly is happening in Indonesia. So from that, it is safe to assume that football in Indonesia is in a bit of a state at the minute.
For those for who geography isn’t a strong subject, Indonesia is a series of islands, or an archipelago, situated in South East Asia and Oceania. It is neighboured by Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, along with others. But, enough of all that educational stuff, let’s get back to the football.
FIFA are currently discussing how to punish the Indonesian football body, PSSI, if it does not resolve the current events which have split the countries football in to two separate bodies. Following a row between the PSSI and the Indonesian Football Saviour Committee (or KPSI), the defunct Indonesia Super League (ISL) was revived by the KPSI, taking along some of the Indonesian Premier League’s (IPL) best teams.
The effects of this were best felt following the controversial 10-0 World Cup qualifier defeat to Bahrain, which raised a few eye brows. This was because going into the game, Bahrain needed to overturn a 9 goal deficit to leap frog rivals Qatar and have a chance of qualifying for the next round. It didn’t help Indonesia’s defence, in more ways than one, when their goalkeeper was sent off after 2 minutes of play.
The fact that the defeat was so heavy laid mostly on the fact that the PSSI had banned any ISL players from representing the countries’ national team, which meant the side was severely weakened, as the ISL housed some of the country’s best footballing talents. Luckily for their suffering fans in the middle of all of this, the ban has been lifted in recent weeks.
Indonesian football has already seen its fair share of controversy off the field including corruption within the PSSI, the former chairman, Nurdin Halid, who has been sentenced to prison due to his illegal activities outside of football. Following a FIFA investigation, he was told he would not be allowed to run for the position within the organisation again, despite the best efforts of his friends within political parties. FIFA also banned the executive committee from being in control, saying that they had “lost all credibility”. Alongside corruption, an email was sent to the President of Indonesia as well as other political leaders claiming that PSSI officers had been bribed during the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, however, it’s still under investigation.
Only recently, in a game between Persipura Jayapura and Persija Jakarta, fans began rioting following the final whistle, which ended in a 1-0 loss for the home side. The fans reportedly began destroying things, setting fire to cars and pelting policeman trying to contain them with rocks.
What could FIFA do about it?
To me, the best thing FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation can do to deal with this situation would be to get the officials of the separate bodies, mediate talks and then make a deal which would make both parties happy and unite Indonesian football, rather than fining and potentially banning them altogether which will only serve to harm and will not help to sort the mess out.
Sadly however, with the financial difficulties for countries like Indonesia and its smaller neighbours, problems like corruption and bribery will always be a constant problem unless football governing bodies like FIFA and AFC get more involved in tackling it with solutions such as recommending people to work within the PSSI who aren’t money driven.
Other actions they could carry out to help out is increase financial backing to go towards, manager education or better coaching for young players which could help to improve the quality of the national side. These are just suggestions, I am in no way an expert in the way FIFA and/or the continental/countries footballing bodies work in these areas.
I just hope that Indonesian football sorts itself out soon and strives, if anything, to give the 237+ million people in the country hope.