FIFA has stripped Indonesia of its right to host the Under-20 Men’s World Cup following the cancellation of the tournament’s official draw, which was scheduled to take place last Friday in Bali.
According to the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), the draw was canceled after the governor of Bali, Wayan Koster refused to host the Israeli team.
The world’s football governing body announced its decision on Wednesday following a meeting with Erick Thohir, President of the PSSI. It stated that a new host nation would be announced “as soon as possible,” with the competition scheduled to begin on May 20.
“FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the U-20 World Cup 2023,” a FIFA statement said.
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.”
Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. It does not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel but openly backs the Palestinian cause.
Conservative Muslims in the country have a strong anti-Israeli stance. Earlier this month, protesters marched in Jakarta calling for the government to ban Israel from competing in the tournament.
Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, warned against combining “sports and politics” in a live-streamed address on Tuesday.
“I hereby guarantee Israel’s participation has nothing to do with the consistency of our foreign policy position towards Palestine because our support for Palestine is always strong and sturdy,” he said.
Erick Thohir stated that he presented a letter from the Indonesian President to FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Wednesday in an effort to convince him of Indonesia’s position.
“I have tried my best. We must accept FIFA’s decision to cancel the holding of the event that we are both looking forward to,” Thohir said in the statement. “Because we are members and FIFA considers that the current situation cannot be continued, we must submit.
“I ask all football lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision by FIFA. It’s time we proved to FIFA to work harder to transform soccer, towards clean and high-achieving soccer.”
Things could get even more difficult for Indonesia
Indonesia is a country where football is very popular, but its leagues have long been marred by mismanagement and violence.
Gaining the right to host the U-20 World Cup had been a big milestone for Indonesian soccer, and now losing the tournament poses a risk to the nation’s standing in the sport.
The PSSI said that losing the hosting rights would make it more difficult for Indonesian football teams to compete in other FIFA competitions and cause “trillions of rupiah” in financial losses.
Before Indonesia was chosen to host the 2021 Under-20 World Cup, FIFA and state authorities in the country agreed to host standards in 2019. The competition was forced to be postponed for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The competition, which was slated to take place from May 20 to June 11 is not yet known who will be the new host.
According to reports, Argentina, which did not make the tournament’s qualifying list, is considering hosting.
FIFA said it will continue to work with Indonesia and the PSSI “in the transformation process of Indonesian football following the tragedy that occurred in October 2022,” referring to the East Java stadium disaster.
“A new meeting between the FIFA president and the PSSI president for further discussions will be scheduled shortly,” the statement said.