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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.