Indonesian U-20 World Cup draw postponed as local politicians protest Israeli participation

By Samindra Kunti

March 27 – FIFA have postponed the U-20 World Cup draw amid a protest against Israel’s participation in the tournament. 

The draw for the youth tournament was scheduled for Friday (March 31) but the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) said the draw was cancelled. Indonesia is due to stage the U-20 World Cup in May and June, but the debut of Israel is causing unease in the host nation, a Muslim-majority country, raising questions over the tournament’s future.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has been critical of Israel’s participation. The Jakarta Post reported earlier this month that Bali’s governor Wayan Koster had written to the Ministry of Youth and Sports imploring them to “adopt a policy forbidding the Israeli team from competing in Bali” due to the conflict with Palestine.

“Previously, Bali governor Wayan Koster rejected the presence of the Israeli national team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup event… This can be a reason for FIFA to cancel the U-20 World Cup draw,” the PSSI said in a statement.

“Because, for FIFA, the governor’s refusal is the same as cancelling the organising guarantee that has been issued by the Bali provincial government.”

PSSI Executive Committee member Arya Sinulingga has expressed his concern over what the cancellation of the draw could mean for Indonesia. “For now, we’re still trying to figure out a way for Indonesia not to be ostracised by the global football community,” said Sinulingga.

He said PSSI president Erick Thohir would liaise with President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo. “The chairman will also report to Mr President at the first opportunity to find a solution to all this, both diplomacy and foreign policy… to save Indonesian football that we love,” added Sinulingga.

Earlier this year, Thohir became the president of the PSSI with hosting the U-20 tournament his most immediate challenge. A former chairman of Inter Milan, Thohir heads the Indonesian Olympic Committee and is a co-owner of Oxford United. A board member of basketball’s governing body FIBA, he also serves as an IOC member.

The postponement will come as a major blow to Indonesian football following the stadium stampede last year at a domestic game in East Java that left 135 fans dead.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1685356590labto1685356590ofdlr1685356590owedi1685356590sni@i1685356590tnuk.1685356590ardni1685356590mas1685356590


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