Peter Hutchison | AFP
Published — Saturday 15 December 2012
Last update 15 December 2012 3:54 pm
TOKYO: FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Saturday described the world body’s decision to grant Indonesia an extension to solve its football crisis as a “Christmas gift,” urging the nation to get its “house in order.”
Football in the Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil for the past two years because of a row between the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and its rival the Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI).
FIFA had given PSSI a December 10 deadline to reconcile its differences with KPSI, which runs a rebel league splitting the nation’s top teams, but the regulator’s Executive Committee on Friday extended the deadline by three months.
“It has been two years now, two years that they have tried to put together the two parts of the football organizations, but they couldn’t do it,” Blatter told a news conference in Tokyo.
“They have asked for another three months to be given, until March next year, and also the Asian Football Confederation was advocating that,” he said, adding that FIFA had agreed to the request.
“I think it was quite a Christmas gift to Indonesia that they haven’t been suspended,” he added.
The row started following the formation of the breakaway KPSI after four members of the PSSI were expelled.
The KPSI set up the Indonesian Super League as a rival to the official Indonesian Premier League.
The dual-league rivalry hit the national team after the KPSI told players from its unofficial top-tier Liga Super not to make themselves available.
“Can you imagine that in Indonesia they have two groups directing football,” Blatter said.
“They have a league but the players of that league cannot play in the national team. Something is wrong.
“Since 2011 we have tried to bring together these two different halves of Indonesian football. We have given (them) until the next meeting of the (FIFA) Executive Committee on the 20th and 21st of March next year to bring their house in order.”
PSSI head Djohar Arifin told AFP by telephone from Tokyo on Friday, after FIFA had discussed the issue at their meeting, that Indonesia had been asked to solve the domestic dispute “as soon as possible.”
The rival administrations have failed to unite despite signing a memorandum of understanding in June vowing to bring Indonesian football under one umbrella.
Blatter said that if the two did not unite by the new deadline a suspension would mean Indonesia being barred from playing in any international matches and FIFA’s financial assistance to the country would be blocked.
“We hope that such a decision does not have to be taken,” he said. “It would be very detrimental to their national football.”