Jakarta. A police general was elected chairman of the Indonesian Football Federation, or PSSI, in a heated "extraordinary congress" at a Jakarta hotel, where eight of 11 candidates walked out before voting on Saturday.
While the leadership board of the association has long been under public scrutiny for alleged match-fixing and bribery scandals, the senior national team has also been in a title drought for decades.
The last time Indonesia's senior football team won an international trophy was in the 1991 SEA Games in Manila.
Comr. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan, the former Jakarta Police chief, emerged with a majority of the votes, 82 out of 85, to lead the embattled PSSI until 2023 during the congress at Shangri-La Hotel in South Jakarta.
He practically won all the votes as three voters had abstained.
The 85 voters include 34 PSSI provincial chapters, 18 Liga-1 clubs, 16 Liga-2 clubs, 16 Liga-3 clubs and one Futsal Association.
Six candidates – Fary Djemy Francis, Yesayas Oktavianus, Benny Erwin, Aven Hinelo, Sarman El Hakim and Vijaya Fitriyasa – withdrew from voting after one of them was prevented from approaching representatives from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and world football governing body FIFA who were present at the congress.
Two other candidates, former chairman La Nyala Mattalitti and retired army general Bernhard Limbong, had earlier dropped their candidacies.
"We withdraw from the congress because we want changes. We are tired of bad competitions and an underperforming national team," Fary said as he walked out of the room with his colleagues.
The three remaining candiāates were Iriawan, Arif Wicaksono and Rahim Soekasah.
Even before the congress, a feud had emerged after Vijaya Fitriyasa, one of the candidates, alleged in a television talk show that Iriawan had "negotiated with a cartel" to win the PSSI chairmanship.
Vijaya, who owns a 70-percent stake at Persis Solo football club, has been reported to police for defamation.
He said several candidates had raised questions about voting procedures and cancellation of pre-voting debates among candidates during Saturday's congress.
"We only wanted an explanation from the congress, but we weren't given a chance to speak and were then asked to leave the room," he said.
His feud with Iriawan erupted just before the voting when they exchanged arguments in front of journalists.
When Iriawan was speaking to the media, Vijaya suddenly came in and interrupted the interview, apparently trying to use the occasion to clarify his earlier remarks on television.
"I'm in the middle of an interview, don't interrupt me," Iriawan said angrily.
The PSSI has seen a raft of leadership changes in recent months. Chairman Edy Rahmayadi resigned in January amid controversies over his public remarks and match-fixing allegations.
Prior to his resignation, when asked why he continued leading the PSSI while serving as North Sumatra governor and advisor to PSMS Medan football club, Edy replied: "What's your business in asking that? You have no right to ask that question."
He also infamously criticized two Indonesian footballers for joining a Malaysian club, saying they had "no sense of nationalism."
He was succeeded by acting chairman Joko Driyono, who is currently in police custody for alleged match-fixing and obstruction of justice.
The legal case prompted the PSSI to hold the extraordinary congress.