In a surprise announcement, FIFA has decided to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023™. This decision came after a meeting between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Erick Thohir.
FIFA cited “current circumstances” as the reason for the removal but did not provide further details. Sources say that PSSI officials have not commented on the decision yet.
Additionally, the decision reportedly comes after a surge of resistance against the participation of the Israeli national team, despite efforts from Erick Thohir, the chief of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI), to lobby FIFA.
Statements After the Meeting
Following the meeting, PSSI chief Erick said he had fought to the best of his abilities to bring Indonesia a favorable result but that as a member of FIFA, the nation must abide by the federation’s rules.
Despite the disappointment, Erick has asked every soccer fan in the country to keep their heads up high in light of this difficult decision. He believes this is the time for them to prove to FIFA that they will work even harder to transform their soccer.
According to official statements, FIFA will be scheduling another meeting between the two presidents to discuss the matter further.
The dates of the tournament remain unchanged, and a new host will be announced as soon as possible. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.
Responses to the Announcement
When the news came out, soccer fans across the country were disappointed, as they hopeful for Erick’s efforts in Qatar. The decision to remove Indonesia as the host country also raised concerns within the Indonesian soccer community.
Arya Sinulingga, an executive committee member of Indonesia’s national soccer association PSSI, expressed concern about further repercussions, saying that “we are not able to carry out what has been asked (by FIFA)… What we are most worried about right now is that we will be ostracized from international events, especially from world soccer activities.”
This decision is another blow to Indonesia’s soccer reputation, following a deadly stampede at a stadium last year that killed over 130 people.
However, FIFA has pledged to continue to assist in the transformation of Indonesian football, and members of the FIFA team will continue to work with Indonesia’s football association.
The tournament, which would have been the first FIFA tournament hosted by Indonesia, had been under preparation for months, with six possible host stadiums and a mascot named Bacuya, a Javanese rhino. Now, new preparations will need to be made for the U20 World Cup.
The Under-20 World Cup is a tournament of up-and-coming soccer stars, with past winners including Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Paul Pogba. It is an opportunity for young players to showcase their skills on a global stage and potentially launch their professional careers.
The tournament was set to take place in six stadiums across Indonesia. Argentina, which did not qualify for the tournament, has expressed interest in hosting, but FIFA has not yet announced a new host.
As the country works to address these concerns and avoid further sanctions, soccer fans will be watching to see what happens next.