FIFA are suffering the toughest week of their existence since becoming the world governing body of football. As is Indonesian football, after being banned from international competitions by FIFA.
Indonesian football fans, understandably, are furious.
In football’s greatest scandal that has rocked the sport to it’s core, the FIFA hierarchy is finally being held accountable for decades of corruption. Within a week of the revelations, Indonesia were also been banned from competing in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup.
Was it just a ploy to distract from FIFA’s scandal?
The move came because FIFA regulations demands member associations to operate “with no influence from third parties.” The Indonesian government has been in a struggle with the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) over which teams can play in the national league, which has been suspended since April.
This happened when the Indonesian Professional Sports Body, an agency within the Ministry of Youth and Sports, stopped recognizing the PSSI and formed a committee to replace it, saying it intended to improve the running of soccer. It did the exact opposite.
FIFA gave a deadline of the end of May for the Indonesian government and PSSI to resolve the dispute.
“We are disappointed; very, very disappointed,” said Heru Joko, chairman of Viking fan club, which supports Bandung club Persib, “It’s not about whether we are going to win or lose, but how the games would have brought supporters together.”
Pak Heru is not wrong. The likelyhood of Indonesia winning the Asian Cup, not least the World Cup, is farfetched. Indonesia only qualified for the World Cup once in 1938, and lies in 155 place in the FIFA rankings.
But winning is not what it’s about for the football fan. It’s about the passion, the atmosphere, the pleasure of supporting national heroes on the world stage. In a football crazy country of 250 million, it’s the fans that loose out.
But could this be for the good of Indonesian football?
The Indonesian government has held itself accountable to the accusations, and has promised to use this wake-up call to initiate large-scale reforms.
“Over the next few months there will be major changes to restructure Indonesian football,” Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said. His ministry also stated that it would work with related institutions to build a blueprint for revamping Indonesian soccer by rearranging it’s management system.
One thing is for sure... it’s going to take more than this own goal to kick the love of football out of Indonesia.