A team from FIFA is scheduled to visit Indonesia in October to check on the nation's banned football federation, PSSI. (Antara Photo/Adeng Bustomi)

Indonesia Hit With World Cup Penalties by AFC

MAY 24, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia, already facing the prospect of a FIFA ban for government interference, has been forced to play its World Cup and Asian Cup qualifier against Iraq in an empty stadium and its home tie against Thailand at a neutral venue.

The decision was taken by the Asian Football Confederation after crowd trouble during two under-23 matches in March against Timor-Leste and South Korea in Jakarta.

Indonesia, which was also fined $20,000 by the AFC and warned of heavier sanctions should such incidents recur, is scheduled to host Iraq on June 16 after it starts its joint qualifying campaign in Taiwan on June 11.

It then travels to Hanoi to face Vietnam in September before an Oct. 8 clash at home to Southeast Asian champion Thailand.

But whether Indonesia is allowed to compete in the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers still remains a big doubt with the domestic game in lockdown after the season was cancelled following a row between the government and the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI).

The two sides have been given until Friday to resolve their differences, which have stemmed from the PSSI's repeated failure to expel two clubs from the Indonesian Super League at the government's recommendation because of ownership concerns.

The government has suspended the PSSI, which in turn cancelled the league season after two rounds. Meanwhile the players have been left in the lurch with no pay.

The PSSI launched plans for a new preseason tournament last week featuring the 18 top-flight teams split into three groups before it bids to start the new league campaign in September, but the Champions Cup was swiftly scrapped.

The government's transitional team, brought in to oversee football in one of the world's most populous countries, refused to give it permission.

PSSI officials arrived in Switzerland this week for Friday's FIFA congress, where the world governing body will also hold a presidential election, and said they would work to avoid a ban.

"We will try our best to lobby FIFA not to impose sanctions on Indonesia," PSSI chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti, who is not recognized by the government, told the Jakarta Post.

The government was also planning to hold discussions with FIFA to explain the situation but La Nyalla said that was pointless as the body would only speak to its members.

The lack of talks between the two parties suggests a FIFA ban is most likely.

Indonesia technical director Peter Hoekstra said a suspension would be hugely damaging and added that the government row had already harmed his work.

"It would be very damaging," the former Dutch and Ajax Amsterdam winger told BBC World Football.

"Unfortunately for us the [sports] ministry stepped in and it looks like they are killing off the initiatives we tried to bring in."