Football Tribe SEA Editor
It has been discussed intensely for a while and now, it has been officially decided. Indonesian football will resume this October, with both the Liga 1 and 2 picking up where they have left off and the Liga 3 finally kicking-off. The three leagues within the Indonesian football pyramid has been suspended since March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and finally, after the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) released an official decree on Sunday, those leagues will become the latest football leagues in the world to resume action amidst the pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 suspension, the Liga 1 have only played a total of 3 matchweeks, with Persib Bandung assuming leadership of the league having won all three of their games so far. The Liga 2 have only played a good portion of their first matchweek prior to the suspension, with the likes of Persis Solo, Persewar Waropen, PSCS Cilacap, and newly promoted Putra Sinar Giri Gresik having yet to play their opening matches. Last but not least, the Liga 3, as mentioned earlier, have yet to play any matches at all, leading to a period of uncertainty for the league’s many clubs amidst the suspension.
According to PSSI chairman Mochamad Irawan, the decision to resume footballing activities in Indonesia was done after many considerations.
“We need to perform a campaign through football that Indonesia are adapting themselves to the ‘new normal’ situation by implementing health protocols,” Irawan said in PSSI’s official website.
Irawan also stressed that FIFA’s suspension of Indonesian football in 2015 have affected clubs, players, and the Indonesia national team quite badly, and with that in mind, a restart of Indonesian football is needed to ensure that players will remain competitive amidst the ongoing pandemic.
“If we resume the leagues now, it is for the sake of our national team,” Irawan continued, “The resumption of the leagues will enable the players to remain competitive and have their skills honed constantly.”
The resumption of the Indonesian football leagues will also serve to benefit the preparation of the U-19 national team, who will make their bow in the upcoming 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup as the host team.
“Should the U-19 players are not in their training camp, they can still prepare themselves for the World Cup by playing for their respective clubs, be it in the Liga 1 or Liga 2. Because in the end, the players are also integral members of their respective clubs,” Irawan explained.
The planned training camps for the U-19 national teams will involve groups of players containing 23-30 people, according to Irawan, and those who are not called up for the training camps can stay fit and competitive by playing for their respective clubs in their respective leagues.
Irawan also stressed that ensuring the smooth progression of all footballing competitions in Indonesia is a mandatory duty of the PSSI as Indonesia’s football federation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the PSSI to think up ways to ensure the competitions’ continuation within the current difficult times.
“We will discuss with all relevant stakeholders in Indonesian football in regards of how the leagues should continue,” said Irawan, hinting at possible alterations within the format and regulations of this year’s Liga 1, 2, and 3.
And while the PSSI has yet to decide on how the leagues should continue, rumors in social media have been spreading about a possible revamped format of the Liga 2. Rumors have stated that the Liga 2 will shift into a tournament-like format, with the first stage being done in groups of four. These groups of four will have games played in a single stadium within a single region, with the proposed Group A playing in Sumatra, Group B playing in either Banten, West Java, or the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Group C playing in either Central Java or East Java, and Group D playing in either East Kalimantan or Sulawesi.
The proposed format would have winners and runners-up of each group clashing in a series of quarterfinal matches, before advancing to the semifinals and last but not least, the final.
However, nothing was confirmed from this proposed format, as the PSSI have yet to say anything about how the Liga 1, 2, and 3 will be played out once they resume in October.