Indonesia's Israel stance threatens FIFA U20 world cup – keepup.com.au
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Uncertainty over the timing and location of the FIFA’s Under-20 World Cup continues two days after Indonesian authorities postponed the official draw for the May 20-June 11 tournament because of protests over Israel’s qualification.
The draw, scheduled to be held in Bali on Friday, was delayed indefinitely by Indonesia’s soccer federation amid backlash from conservative Islamic groups.
Doubt had already been cast on the draw ceremony when the governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, called for a ban on Israel playing there because of Indonesia’s diplomatic support for the Palestinian cause.
FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, has not commented on Indonesia’s status as host or a reported offer from Argentina to stage the event, with the trade-off of having an Argentine team in the tournament.
Pressure on Indonesia’s soccer association, the PSSI, and its chairman Erick Thohir is mounting because if local authorities fail to resolve the hosting issues over Israel, the country risks being suspended by FIFA and potentially missing out on Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.
Thohir is a former owner of major international teams, including Italian soccer giant Inter Milan and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, and has been Indonesia’s minister of state-owned enterprises since 2019.
His sport and political diplomacy skills will be seriously tested.
Thohir and FIFA president Gianni Infantino are also members of the International Olympic Committee.
“Continue to be passionate about finding solutions to every challenge, for the sake of an increasingly global Indonesia,” Thohir wrote in a Twitter post aimed at resolving the impasse.
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, said Thohir planned to fly to Zurich to hold further meetings with FIFA.
“We are still conducting talks,” Effendy, who is also serving as the acting minister of youth and sports, said after a cabinet meeting on Monday.
“We hope we can find the answer and at least FIFA will understand Indonesia’s position in this problem.”
Effendy also said that Indonesia submitted conditions to FIFA about the presence of Israel during the tournament, but there was no common ground. He did not reveal the conditions.
“This is not merely a rejection or protest, but this is related to our country’s Constitution,” he said in response to questions about the leaders of two provinces selected as tournament venues pushing back against hosting the Israeli team.
Israel, who have qualified for the tournament for the first time, had been expected to be based in Bali.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation with about 277 million people and does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
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