The Indonesian Super League has been suspended after just one round of matches. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)

FIFA Threatens Sanctions Over League Meddling

APRIL 13, 2015

The Indonesian Super League has been suspended after just one round of matches. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)

Jakarta. The incessant bumbling by Indonesia’s sports administrators could see the country face sanctions from world football governing body FIFA, after it only narrowly avoided punishment from the International Olympic Committee last month.

In a letter to the Sports Ministry dated April 10, FIFA slammed the government’s insistence calls that top-flight clubs Arema Indonesia and Persebaya Surabaya be barred from playing in the Indonesian Super League.

The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) suspended the league last week after just one round of matches, under pressure from the ministry and the Indonesian Professional Sports Body (BOPI), who contend that ongoing ownership disputes rendered Arema and Persebaya ineligible to participate — despite both sides holding valid professional club certification from the Asian Football Confederation.

“As we understand, the reason for preventing the clubs’ participation is that BOPI seeks to impose criteria additional to those imposed by PSSI that need to be met in order to participate in the ISL,” said the letter, signed by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

But it added that the PSSI, as a member association of FIFA, must be allowed to manage its affairs independently and without influence from any third parties — in this case the Sports Ministry and BOPI.

“[We] inform you that only FIFA Member Associations (or affiliated leagues) can be the licensor and body responsible for governing and imposing the criteria of which clubs must meet in order to participate,” it said.

FIFA said the ministry and BOPI’s involvement in the clubs’ assessment violated Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes and placed the PSSI in a difficult position.

“Accordingly, we respectfully request that your office and/or BOPI refrain from interfering with PSSI affairs and allow PSSI to comply with its obligations as a member of FIFA,” it said.

“Failure to do so will leave us with no other option but to refer this matter to the appropriate FIFA body to consider possible sanctions to PSSI.”

In response, the ministry has played the nationalism card, claiming that FIFA, if anyone, is guilty of meddling.

“If FIFA continuously discredits the government of the Republic of Indonesia, then the sovereignty of Indonesia is breached,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

“Therefore, FIFA is asked to be careful with its statements before making a judgement without an accountable and objective base.”

The threat of FIFA sanctions comes less than two months after the IOC warned that Indonesia could lose its hosting of the 2018 Asian Games unless the Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI) ceased its illegal use of the Olympics’ “five rings” in its logo. KONI finally complied last month after being compelled to do so by a court, heading off the threat of sanctions.