Mon, Jun 01, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Indonesia accepts ban imposed by FIFA, vows reform

Reuters, JAKARTA

Persib Bandung’s Tantan Dzalikha, left, vies for the ball in their Asian Football Confederation Champions League match against Hong Kong’s Kitchee in Bandung, Indonesia, on May 27.

Photo: AFP

The Indonesian government has accepted responsibility for a ban imposed by FIFA on its national soccer association over its involvement in the nation’s domestic league, but said it would continue to work to overhaul the competition.

World soccer’s governing body on Saturday banned Indonesia due to the government’s “effective takeover” of soccer activities in the nation after it suspended the national league following a dispute over which teams are eligible to compete.

The ban means Indonesia are ineligible to compete in the next round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup, which start on June 11 — when they are due to play Taiwan — unless they meet FIFA’s demands.

However, FIFA did allow Indonesia’s national team to continue playing at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, because the tournament has already started.

“The government intends to take responsibility for the sanctions and push ahead with reforms in football management that it hopes will allow the country to soon take part in international competitions again,” the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports said yesterday.

“We must respect the FIFA statutes, but this bitter experience has been a lesson for us all [and] ... the government is not ignoring that several strategic steps must be taken as a consequence of the sanctions,” the ministry said.

“The government will work together with various related organizations to perfect a blueprint for national soccer reform as quickly as possible to develop a grand strategy that is more comprehensive, transparent, objective and with an overall target of significant achievements in restructuring the management system of national football [in] Indonesia,” it said.

The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and the state-sanctioned Indonesian Professional Sports Agency (BOPI) have been at loggerheads over whether Persebaya Surabaya and Arema Indonesia could play in the Indonesian Super League (ISL).

BOPI wanted the teams blocked, but the PSSI resisted, forcing the government to cancel the season and suspend the soccer association, which resulted in FIFA’s sanctions.

The world governing body takes a dim view of what it terms government interference in soccer and banned Indonesia from World Cup qualifiers this month.

They are scheduled to play Taiwan on June 11 and Iraq five days later in matches that double as qualifiers for the next World and Asian cups.

However, the ministry said it was important for everyone to work together to ensure the sanctions are short-lived.

“There is no need for blaming each other with the government, because what is needed now is united steps and actions in facing a situation we truly didn’t wish for,” the ministry’s statement said.

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