Jakarta. Bhayangkara insists that it has won Indonesia's top-tier football league amid controversy that saw the police-affiliated club being awarded the match against rival Mitra Kukar despite a draw.
The Liga 1 match between the Bekasi, West Java-based club and Mitra Kukar at Aji Imbut Stadium in Tenggarong, East Kalimantan, on Nov. 3 ended in a 1-1 draw. However, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) canceled the result and instead awarded Bhayangkara a 3-0 win after ruling that Mitra Kukar had broken the rules by fielding former English Premier League player Mohamed Sissoko while he was still suspended.
"We were aware that Sissoko was suspended for two games, on Nov. 3 and Nov. 11, and it is impossible for Mitra Kukar not to have received the prohibition letter by email," Bhayangkara said in a press release on Wednesday, arguing that its decision to launch an appeal against the original match result was justified.
Mitra Kukar decided not to appeal the ruling.
The PSSI ruling has helped propel Bhayangkara to the top of the league table with 68 points, after the club trashed Madura United 3-1 on Wednesday (08/11). Bhayangkara and second-placed Bali United, which is currently three points behind, each has one match remaining in this year's league.
"With one game remaining, Bali United can still match Bhayangkara's points, but the police club wins head-to-head on points against the Balinese side and thus the league winner has already been decided," Goal.com reported on Friday.
"We've won the title but we won't lose determination. We will show that we deserve to be the champions by focusing on winning the last match," Bhayangkara coach Simon McMenemy said in a statement on Friday, referring to their last match against Persija Jakarta on Sunday.
However, the PSSI decided to pour cold water on Bhayangkara's claim.
"The winners can be decided when the league is over. Anything can happen, as it is still ongoing," PSSI secretary general Ratu Tisha Destria said on Friday when asked whether Bhayangkara had won Liga 1.
"Talking about points: Indeed [Bhayangkara's points] cannot be matched, but we must respect the fact that the competition has not yet ended," she added.