Jusuf Kalla seeks end to PSSI suspension, but Sports Ministry digs in its heels

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has called for an end to the suspension of the country’s football association to avert an impending ban by FIFA, but the Sports Ministry appeared to balk at the idea.

FIFA has threatened to ban Indonesia from international competitions over the Sports Ministry’s interference in the affairs of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) unless the suspension is revoked by May 29.

The ministry last month suspended PSSI for ignoring orders to exclude Arema Cronus and Persebaya Surabaya from the Indonesian Super League over ownership concerns, and the government appointed its own transitional committee to run the national programme.

The move forced PSSI to cancel league competitions, and attempts by the ministry to revive them failed because it could not find an organizer.

“PSSI should be active again,” Kalla said, after attending a meeting of officials from the Sports Ministry, PSSI and the National Sports Committee.

“Hopefully the suspension will be revoked this evening,” he said.

But the Sports Ministry said the end of the suspension was one of three options discussed during the meeting and no decision has been made.

“There’s still no agreement,” said Gatot Dewa Broto, a deputy at the ministry.

The ministry’s order to exclude the two clubs came after they failed a government audit into several aspects of their management, and were embroiled in ownership disputes.

A suspension by FIFA could bar Indonesia from international competitions at national and club levels. Two Indonesians clubs – Persipura Jayapura and Persib Bandung – have qualified to the last 16 of the continental AFC Cup. 

Clubs said they have been unable to pay players after sponsors withdrew support as a result of the halt to the top-tier Indonesian Super League competition.

Indonesian football was until recently bogged down by infighting over control of the sport in the football-mad country.

The national team was unable to field many of the country’s strongest players, who were signed to a rival league not recognized by PSSI.

The dispute was resolved in 2013.

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