A formal announcement from FIFA on Wednesday, 29 March, dashed Indonesia’s ambitions to host the U-20 World Cup 2023, scheduled from 20 May until 11 June 2023.
The announcement to cancel Indonesia’s hosting of the World Cup was made following a meeting between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Erick Thohir, in Doha, Qatar.
According to FIFA, the decision to remove Indonesia as host of the 2023 World Cup was taken “due to current circumstances.” FIFA plans to retain the original dates for the World Cup 2023, with a new host location to be announced in the coming days.
FIFA indicates that possible sanctions against the Indonesian Soccer Federation (PSSI) ” may be decided at a later stage.”
Bali has placed itself at the epicenter of global controversy after Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster issued a letter on 14 March 2023 calling for Indonesia to ban the Israeli U-20 Team from participating in the World Cup in Indonesia and, by extension, rejecting the Israeli players from playing any matches in any World Cup matches in Bali. In October 2019, Indonesia won an international hard-fought bidding competition to host the games at stadia in Jakarta, South Sumatra, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Bali.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo subsequently joined the Bali Governor’s rejection of the U-20 World Cup Matchplay on the pretext of their rejection of participation by the Israeli Team. Pranowo and Koster are PDI-P politicians, a party led by Indonesia’s former President Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Despite Indonesia’s failure to fulfill the terms of its hosting sponsorship of the U-20 World Cup, FIFA says it “remains committed to actively assisting the PSSI, in close cooperation and with the support of the government of President Widodo, in the transformation process of Indonesian football following the tragedy that occurred in October 2022.” FIFA’s President said members of the FIFA team would continue to be present in Indonesia in the coming months and will provide any required assistance to PSSI under PSSI President Thohir.
The sudden cancellation of the U-20 hosting will cost Indonesia both financially and in terms of its national reputation. Regional governments have invested substantially in creating match venues and other facilities. A global sporting event, the now-canceled World Cup, was anticipated to aid Indonesia’s recovering tourism sector by drawing thousands of athletes, officials, and eager spectators to the 3-week-long support.
Governor Koster defended his letter, which precipitated the cancellation of the U-20 World Cup in Indonesia, insisting his actions were “holistically considered” and “everything had been calculated” before the letter was sent.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has tried to “walk back” Governor Koster’s statement via a televised address in which he emphasized that the hosting of the World Cup, including the participation of the Israeli Team, does not detract from Indonesia’s condemnation and rejection of Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinian people. The President stated that the Indonesian Constitution rejects colonialism in any form. At the same time, he rejected the action of Bali’s Governor, insisting that politics and sports must not be mixed. The President also pointed out that the Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia, Zuhair Al-Shun, had given his blessing to Indonesia’s hosting of the U-20 World Cup with the Palestinian Ambassador stating that he did not doubt Indonesia’s support for Palestine remains “firm and strong” and would not be detracted the hosting of the sporting event.
Just hours after The Indonesian President Issued his assurances, FIFA decided to end PSSI’s hosting of the U-20 World Cup.
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