Troubled Indonesia dodges FIFA sanctions

Updated 15 December 2012
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Troubled Indonesia dodges FIFA sanctions

JAKARTA: Indonesia evaded sanctions from world football regulator FIFA yesterday, the nation’s federation said, and was given an extension to resolve a row that has thrown Indonesian football into crisis.
FIFA had given the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) a Dec. 10 deadline to reconcile its differences with rival Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI) that runs a rebel league splitting the nation’s top teams.
“FIFA did not sanction Indonesia and we were asked to solve our problem as soon as possible,” PSSI head Djohar Arifin said by telephone from Tokyo, after FIFA discussed the issue in a meeting.
The rival administrations failed to show unity despite signing a memorandum of understanding in June vowing to bring Indonesian football under one umbrella.
The nation’s top sports authorities were forced to establish a task force after the deadline passed ahead of the Tokyo meeting to begin mediation in the long-standing feud.
Arifin said he was informed of FIFA’s decision via e-mail and was told the task to oversee Indonesia’s progress was handed to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
He said FIFA had not told him how long the extension would be, but that FIFA would evaluate Indonesia’s progress in an association committee meeting on Feb. 14, adding that he hoped to resolve the crisis by FIFA’s executive committee meeting on March 20.
The decision has been met with mixed reactions in the 240-million-strong nation, where despite a poor performing national team, football attracts millions of fanatics.
“It’s very kind of FIFA to not give sanctions. Now let’s solve Indonesia’s football problem,” Ali Abu Negara tweeted in Indonesian.
Another Indonesian Twitter user Bheny Hermawan disagreed: “It’s better for Indonesia to get sanctions so we can start from zero, for a better football in the future.” The PSSI has been in hot water with FIFA and the AFC in recent years over poor management, corruption allegations, leadership tussles and poor security at major matches.
The dual-league rivalry has also hit the national team after the KPSI told players from its unofficial top-tier Liga Super not to make themselves available.
At Southeast Asia’s ongoing Suzuki Cup, four-time finalists Indonesia bowed out in the group stages.


Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

Updated 31 min 43 sec ago
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Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

London: Chelsea booked an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United as Olivier Giroud tormented Southampton again with a sublime strike in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Wembley.
Giroud has made a habit of scoring against Southampton and the France forward was their nemesis in a one-sided semifinal.
Opting to select Giroud instead of Alvaro Morata proved a shrewd move by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as the former Arsenal star produced a tremendous piece of skill to break the deadlock early in the second half.
Giroud has feasted on Southampton this season, scoring twice to spark Chelsea’s 3-2 win last weekend and also netting a late equalizer against them for Arsenal in December.
His fourth goal for Chelsea since his January signing was followed by a late header from substitute Morata, setting up a heavyweight final against United at Wembley on May 19.
That will be Chelsea’s last chance to win major silverware at the end of a troubled season.
“The most important thing is to reach the final. This is the second FA Cup final in a row for us. I’m delighted for our fans,” Conte said.
“For sure, Olivier has been a good signing for us. I needed a player like him, strong physically, to hold the ball up.
“Today I decided to start with Olivier because I knew we were playing against three strong central defenders, but when Morata came on the impact was impressive as well.”
Chelsea’s 13th FA Cup final appearance will be a repeat of the 2007 showpiece, when Jose Mourinho’s men won 1-0.
The Blues, back in the final after losing to Arsenal in May, last won the competition in 2012 and are bidding to lift the trophy for the eighth time.
Winning the FA Cup might not be enough to convince either Conte or Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that their two-year partnership should be extended.
Conte has spent much of the season complaining about Chelsea’s failure to back his transfer plans, while several of his players are believed to be unhappy with his demanding training sessions and intense personality.
The Blues face a tough task to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League as they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by five points.
Against that backdrop, winning the Cup would at least provide an uplifting conclusion to a frustrating campaign.
For Southampton, the focus returns to their desperate battle to avoid relegation, with just four games left to climb out of the bottom three.
Saints boss Mark Hughes claimed the crucial moment was the officials’ refusal to use the video assistant referee when Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero may have dropped the ball over the line under pressure from Charlie Austin.
“We are disappointed with the officials. Their goalkeeper has thrown the ball into the back of the net,” Hughes complained.
“If ever there was a case for VAR to review, that was the moment. Why it wasn’t referred I’ve no idea.”
Giroud was warming to the task of giving Southampton another headache and he went close to breaking the deadlock with an acrobatic volley before half-time.
Chelsea’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 46th minute.
Cesc Fabregas lofted a pass toward Eden Hazard and he controlled brilliantly in mid-air before slipping the ball through to Giroud.
There was still work for Giroud to do and he side-stepped three defenders with surprising grace, his nimble footwork giving him just enough space to slot home from close range.
After Caballero got away with his sloppy handling, Austin appealed in vain for a penalty when Giroud left his arm out to block the forward’s header.
But it was too little, too late and Morata came off the bench to wrap up the win with just his third goal in his last 19 appearances.
Morata, who has failed to impress since his move from Real Madrid last year, was furious after being hauled off at Burnley.
Just days later, he was all smiles when he nodded home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s 82nd-minute cross.