FIFA has stripped Indonesia’s hosting rights for the Under-20 Men’s World Cup after an Indonesian official openly objected to Israel’s participation in the event. This comes just eight weeks before the tournament is set to begin.
CNN reported that a total of 24 teams were scheduled to compete in the tournament across six Indonesian cities between May 20 and June 11. Israel had qualified for the event for the first time.
FIFA released a statement, saying: “Following today’s meeting between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Erick Thohir, FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023.”
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.”
Arya Sinulingga, a member of the PSSI executive committee, reportedly told CNN that FIFA’s decision to strip Indonesia of its hosting rights comes after one regional Indonesian leader expressed a refusal to host matches if Israel competed.
Sinulingga went on to say that Wayan, governor of the island of Bali, had reportedly sent a letter to Indonesia’s sports ministry calling for Israel to be banned from competing in the province, according to the report.
“The governor of Bali also stated in the letter that the provincial government of Bali refused (to allow) the Israeli team to compete in Bali,” he added.
As a result, Indonesia could face further penalties, including a suspension that would prevent the country from qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, per CBS News. The continental qualifiers for the event are set to begin in October.
Violence and serious mismanagement have been a mainstay in Indonesian soccer leagues for a number of years. In October 2022, a reported 125 people died in the stadium of an Indonesian soccer game. Footage from the match suggested that fans rushed the pitch after the home team’s 3-2 defeat.
The police had reportedly deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. The police chief suggested that the situation had become anarchic.
Though soccer is very popular in Indonesia, the country being stripped of its hosting rights for the U-20 World Cup could prove detrimental to the country’s reputation with the game.