Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surprise, surprise...

Anyone who has followed Indonesia's farcical attempt to host the 2018 World Cup finals can hardly be surprised that FIFA have finally pulled the plug on what was always little more than a pie-in-the-sky project.

While Indonesia can lay claim to being the first Asian nation to qualify for the World Cup - in 1938, when they were known as the Dutch East Indies - they have done nothing on the global stage since. The country recently missed out on a place at the Asian Cup finals while the nation's game has long been mismanaged and riddled with corruption; quite simply, Indonesia never had the infrastructure, the political support or the finances to make their bid a serious one.

On Friday, the PSSI received a letter from FIFA informing the federation that the bid was dead as they had been incapable of securing government support, a situation which had been clear since day one but had been reinforced following the successful reelection of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono late last year.

SBY had made it clear long before winning a second term that he had no intention of backing the plan and the only hope the bid had would have come if Jusuf Kallah, SBY's former vice president and a close associate of Nurdin Halid, had won at the elections.

That, though, was never likely to happen and, as SBY comfortably retained the presidency, the bid was dead in the water. Not that that stopped those fine people at the PSSI from continuing to talk about the bid and spending money as if it was going ahead.

There have been whispers behind the scenes of all sorts of skulduggery involving those pushing for the bid; the president of the FA - Nurdin - is far from a saint, having already served jail time for corruption. His position now is under serious threat, with a conference due to be held in Malang later this month before government-backed moves to reform the PSSI are discussed in April.

How FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation view those moves will be interesting in the coming months. The game's governing body usually reacts negatively towards what it sees as government interference while the Indonesians are believed to have been one of the few South East Asian nations to have backed Mohamed bin Hammam during last year's tense FIFA Executive Committee election.

Nurdin's criminal record should see him removed from his post under the FIFA statutes but, as yet, he has managed to somehow negotiate his way around that particular regulation.

The next few weeks will be of great interest in Indonesia.


  1. Observing the local media at times like this is interesting. When Nurdin stood unopposed for relection as head of the FA the media barely uttered a sound of dissent.

    Now it seems every day there is someone coming out to say he must step down.

    Last week there was a talk show featuring NH and the sports minister who wouldn't even look the guy in the face.

    However, be careful what you wish for. Some of the names being bandied around make scary reading!

    You're right about the government. By getting involved they will own earn the oppribrium of FIFA. A FIFA who strangely refused to act when NH was doing time. And now the FA just amended their statutes so slightly to ensure NH remained off the hook...and FIFA did nothing.

    Brian Glanville where are you?!

    Jakarta Casual

  2. Michael - Couldn't find an email address here for you. I am originally from Belfast (I believe you are a Larne man) and now live in New Orleans and have written a football book and had a quick query.
    Any chance you could email me at:
    when you get a minute? Many thanks - my site is www.stephen-rea.com if you want to check it out first,
    Cheers and good luck,