FIFA Threatens Indonesia With Suspension as Ministry Meddles in League

FEBRUARY 21, 2015

Jakarta. World football governing body FIFA has expressed concern over the Indonesian sports minister’s decision to delay the start of the country’s top-flight league, hinting that it constituted meddling.

In a letter dated Thursday and signed by secretary general Jerome Valcke, FIFA said it had always made clear that the Indonesian Football Association, or PSSI, as its official member association in the country must be allowed to remain independent in the execution of its programs, including overseeing the Indonesian Super League, which Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi delayed by two weeks from the scheduled start date of Feb. 20.

“In relation to the postponement of the ISL, we remind you that all FIFA Member Associations must manage their affairs independently and without influence from any third parties, as clearly stipulated in Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes,” the letter said.

It added that the ministry’s intervention, in the grounds that some clubs had not fulfilled administrative requirements on time, could prove a setback after the PSSI had “moved forward in a positive direction” since a previous internal dispute.

FIFA added that the ministry and the Indonesian Professional Sports Council, or BOPI, had no right to set any criteria for the ISL, and that if they insisted and forced the 18 ISL clubs to meet their criteria, Indonesia may face suspension.

“Furthermore, and in relation to criteria (as well as any other conditions that could affect ISL clubs from participating in the ISL), we remind you that only FIFA Member Associations (or affiliated leagues) can be the licensor and body responsible for governing and imposing criteria of which clubs must meet in order to participate,” the letter said.

“Should the ISL continue to be delayed as a result of BOPI or indeed the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports imposing its own criteria upon ISL clubs, the matter would be referred to the relevant FIFA body to take appropriate measures, which could go as far as an immediate suspension.”

FIFA has asked the PSSI to provide it with an update on any developments by no later Sunday, but did not say what would happen beyond then.

Indonesia previously faced the threat of suspension from FIFA in 2010, when a breakaway faction within the PSSI set up a rival league. The acrimonious rift was only resolved in 2013.