Local, regional and international newswires are buzzing with reports that objections to the participation of the Israeli U-20 national team in the forthcoming U-20 World Cup has led to FIFA officially revoking Indonesia’s status as host of the U-20 World Cup 2023, leaving fans and officials devastated. This comes after a meeting between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairperson Erick Thohir at Doha on March 29, which directly follows vocal rejection from notable figures against the participation of the Israel national team, report Tempo.
An official FIFA statement was published on its website that reads: “Following today’s meeting between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Erick Thohir, FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023.”
A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged, the statement reads. In response to this ruling, Thohir maintained that he had tried his best to negotiate Indonesia’s status in hosting the competition. Still, as a member country, the organization will have to adhere to the authority and decisions made by FIFA, say Tempo.
“I have fought my hardest. After delivering the letter from President Jokowi and discussing extensively with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, we must accept this decision and no longer host the event that we have waited for,” said Erick Thohir in a statement to the media on March 29.
Erick, who was tasked by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to lobby FIFA, admitted that he had conveyed each and every aspect of why Indonesia intends to continue hosting the competition to Infatino, including what was entrusted by President Jokowi, football fans, and U-20 national team players.
“I encourage all football fans to keep their heads held high in facing this tough decision by FIFA,” said Erick who also assumes the SOEs Minister.
According to Tempo, in the same official statement by FIFA, Indonesia is said to likely receive further sanctions due to the current drawback.
“Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage,” the letter stated. “FIFA would like to underline that despite this decision, it remains committed to actively assisting the PSSI, in close cooperation and with the support of the government of President Widodo, in the transformation process of Indonesian football following the tragedy that occurred in October 2022.”
The statement also stated that members of the FIFA team will continue to be present in Indonesia in the coming months and will provide the required assistance to the PSSI, under the leadership of PSSI Chairperson Erick Thohir, Tempo are reporting.
“A new meeting between the FIFA President and the PSSI President for further discussions will be scheduled shortly,” it said.
Prior to revoking Indonesia as host for the U-20 World Cup, FIFA had postponed the competition’s team draw event that should have been held in Bali on March 31. One of the main reasons behind the cancelation was the disdain against the participation of the Israeli national team expressed by the Bali governor and other notable public figures in politics.