Since last month, Indonesia has been banned by FIFA from participating in international football events after the government took over some activities of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI). The intervention was seen as excessive because it violated the independence of the PSSI. The Indonesian government maintains that reforms are needed to improve the country's football, which include a review of the rules enforced by PSSI.
Global Voices conducted an email interview with PSSI President La Nyalla Mattalitti to get his views on this issue. Below is the summarized translation of the interview which was originally conducted in Bahasa.
Global Voices: FIFA said it suspended Indonesia because of government intervention in PSSI. But the government said its decision to intervene was meant to reform the country's football sector. Can you comment on this?
La Nyalla Mattalitti: The government intervened through the Ministry of Youth and Sports by banning two teams in the Indonesia Super League (ISL). It is PSSI which should determine the participation of clubs in the ISL and not the Indonesia Professional Sports Body (BOPI) established by the sports ministry.
As early as February 19, 2015, FIFA sent a letter reminding all parties, including the BOPI, not to interfere in the rules of the football league including the licensing of clubs.
FIFA prohibits the involvement of a third party in determining the rules of the game because if this is allowed, then each country will draft their own rules.
It is similar to Indonesian Law No. 3 of 2005, concerning the National Sports System, which authorizes the sports federation, in this case the PSSI, to determine the rules and carry out sports activities.
As IOC President Thomas Bach said during his speech at the UNGA in New York in November 2013, “Sports is truly the only area of human existence which has achieved universal law. But to apply this universal law worldwide, sports has to enjoy responsible autonomy. Politics must respect this sporting autonomy.”
GV: The government also said intervention was necessary to improve the performance of Indonesian football. What is your reaction?
LNM: If the government wants Indonesian football teams to win more international games, then it should follow what other countries are doing. Adopt the best practices and sporting standards. Look at how the governments of Japan, Qatar, or the countries of Southeast Asia are supporting their teams. How much are they spending to subsidize sports or football?
As a matter of fact, the PSSI does not receive funding from the state. PSSI shoulders the cost of maintaining the football league. We rent the stadium, pay security and restitution of match tickets. In contrast, the Malaysian government provides free facilities for its football league. So where is our government? Now, suddenly, they are talking about the need to reform the governance of Indonesian football.
GV: What is your course of action after the FIFA ban? Are you also trying to enlist the help of AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) or the AFC (Asian Football Confederation)?
LNM: For FIFA and AFC, the suspension will be lifted if PSSI is restored to its original state.
Withdraw the order of the sports ministry and then PSSI can start talking with the government on how to formalize cooperation in accordance with the standards set by FIFA. This is the way forward to end the ban and to further develop Indonesian football.