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The Black & White of Indonesian Football 2015

Indonesia football in 2015 entered the dark age of the Indonesian football history. The whole episode started when a government intervention on Indonesian Football Association, PSSI occurred , and subsequently all major and official competitions

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Indonesia football in 2015 entered the dark age of the Indonesian football history. The whole episode started when a government intervention on Indonesian Football Association, PSSI occurred , and subsequently all major and official competitions under PSSI came to a stop. Indonesia football has since died for several months.

This mess up started in April 2015 when BOPI (Badan Olahraga Profesional Indonesia) or Professional Sport Committee of Indonesia prohibited Arema Cronus and Persebaya Surabaya to participate in the Indonesia Super League after BOPI had given them more time to finish their legality but both the clubs failed to do so. Although BOPI’s decision to stop the competition is firmed, PSSI ignored and continued to allow both Arema Cronus and Persebaya Surabaya to participate in the competition. PSSI had even decided to kick start the league on 4 April 2015.

Indonesia Youth and Sport Minister, Imam Nahrowi sent warning letter to PSSI twice, first on 8 April 2015 and second on 15 April 2015. Then on 16 April 2015, the Minister banned Arema and Persebaya to participate in every official Indonesia football activity. To ensure his instruction to the Indonesian football fraternity is fully understood, on 17 April 2015, the Minister banned PSSI from organizing all football activities or activities under PSSI’s umbrella. All clubs and fans were affected by the impact of their domestic football ban. Players became jobless overnight.

Eventually, FIFA finally came into the picture and levied a punishment by banning PSSI over the conflict. According to the FIFA letter signed by FIFA General Secretary Mr. Jerome Valcke, all Indonesia clubs are prohibited to participate in International match under FIFA, AFC and AFF. But fortunately, Indonesia still can participate in the SEA Games in Singapore but sadly, that participation was also the last International tournament for Indonesia National Team.

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FIFA is preparing to lift the ban provided PSSi can take back their authority and ensure there will not be any further intervention from Indonesia government. FIFA also arrived in Indonesia on 2 November 2015 with their three representatives, Kohzo Tashima, H.R.H Prince Abdullah & James Johnson with AFC representatives consisted of Mariano Araneta, Sanjeevan and John Windsor. Should the situation not improving, FIFA will take it up to the Annual Congress which is to be held in February 2016. And that means the football ban could last longer than expected. On the other side, FIFA has also appointed an Ad-Hoc Committee to look into the current Indonesia football situation. This Committee, led by Agum Gumelar and Vice Leader IGK Manila, consists of representative from PSSI Indonesia government, APPI (Indonesia Professional Footballer Association), KONI (Indonesia National Sport Committee), KOI (Indonesia Olympic Committee), Indonesia Super League and Women football.

Unfortunately up to this point of time, Indonesia government and Indonesia Olympic Committee have not elected their representatives yet. Regardless, a much smaller team was still formed by Indonesia President’s recommendation, Joko Widodo.

During the period of the football ban in Indonesia, there were 2 unofficial tournaments held to entertain all Indonesian football lovers. First, Kemerdekaan Cup 2015 which was held from August to September 2015, was launched by Mr. President in Tangerang on 15 August 2015. The tournament consisted of 24 clubs with group stage system and eventually, PSMS Medan, a team from North Sumatra emerged as Champion after defeating Persiwa Ngawi from East Java 2-1 in the Final. PSMS Captain, Legimin Raharjo became the hero after he scored the winning goal in the dying minute of the game.

Next is the Sudirman Cup which kicked off with 15 teams from 10 November 2015. Currently, the tournament is still in the Semi-final stage where Mitra Kukar FC, Pusamania Borneo FC, Arema Cronus and Semen Padang are still battling out. The first leg on 9 January 2016 will see Arema Cronus play against Mitra Kukar and on 10 January 2016, Pusamania Borneo FC will play against the only team from Sumatra island, Semen Padang. The second leg will be held on 16 January 2016 and 17 January 2016 respectively. Lastly, the Final will be played on 24 January 2016.

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Apart from the Sudirman Cup’s upcoming Semi-finals, Indonesia will also have a classic match, PSMS Medan as Kemerdekaan Champion to play against Persib Bandung as Indonesia Super League Champion from last season. This match will be played in 2-legs basis. First leg will be held in Medan on 3 January 2016 and second leg will be held on 8 January 2016 in Bandung. Some people label this match as “El Classico” and certainly that is going to be an extremely entertaining match for both supporters and Indonesian football lovers though that is only a friendly match.

Tournaments such as Kemerdekaan Cup & Sudirman Cup are always a good platforms for young players to show off their skills. Febri Haryadi from Persib Bandung is one of them. The winger came through the rank (Persib U21) and successfully established himself in the first team notwithstanding the fact that he has to compete with other more senior players such as M.Ridwan and Zulham Zamrun playing in the same position as him.

After having led Indonesia U19 to the AFF Championship 2013 title, 20yrs old Evan Dimas Darmono also raised to the occasion where he is now a regular at Surabaya United as a playmaker.

Beside these players who are making waves back at home, Indonesia does have players who are plying their trades abroad too. Rumoured to be the highest paid Indonesian footballer, Andik Virmansyah plays for Selangor FC in the Malaysian Super League. Probably the most well known Indonesian footballer in this era, Irfan Bachdim plays for Consadole Sapporo in Japan League Division 2.

As we wait for things to turn better in Indoneisa, we hope that the banning of football in the country can be lifted as soon as possible. Once again, we wish for no racism, no violent and more respect for one another because Indonesia has this very famous slogan, Unity in Diversity – Andi L Pananrang

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