Southeast Asia Indonesia

Indonesian Football Restart Officially Postponed After Permit Denial

The Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) have officially postponed the restart of both the Liga 1 Indonesia and the Liga 2 Indonesia after being denied the permit to held both leagues by the Indonesian Police. With law enforcement being concerned for public safety due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the PSSI have decided to respect their wishes and postponed the restart of both leagues for at least a month.

“The Indonesian Police have denied the permits to restart both the Liga 1 and the Liga 2 on the grounds of the ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia,” said PSSI chairman Mochamad Irawan in a virtual press conference held on Tuesday, “We also realize the fact on the field. Hence, we’ve decided to respect and understand the decision from the Indonesian Police.”

Irawan acknowledged that the Indonesian Police’s decision was made based on concerns for public safety, but stressed that the PSSI cannot postpone football in Indonesia for too long.

“The PSSI have sought for a month-long postponement of all competitions since if we resume in November 2020, we can still finish everything by March 2021, thus leaving ample time to prepare for the U-20 World Cup in May 2021,” said Irawan, “With that in mind it will be difficult for us to restart in December.”

Irawan also pointed out that cancellation of competitions will affect Indonesia’s participation in FIFA and AFC sanctioned competitions, however the PSSI will respect whichever decision that both the police and the government will take in regards of the restart of football in Indonesia.

“I urge all players, coaches, officials, clubs, and supporters to stay optimistic and respect this decision,” concluded Irawan.

The PSSI’s decision to postpone the restart of Indonesian football was met by appraisal by Minister of Youth and Sports Zainudin Amali.

“I’m upbeat that all stakeholders in Indonesian football would understand the federation’s decision. Hopefully things will improve by next month so that we can finally resume all Indonesian football competitions,” affirmed Zainudin.

The decision to postpone the restart of Indonesian football was met by mixed reactions from a number of football clubs. Both Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung are taking advantage of the month-long postponement to continue their preparations for the upcoming restart, with both teams already holding training sessions behind closed doors. Persija also had all of their staffs and players tested for COVID-19 and much to the Macan Kemayoran‘s delight, everyone in the club was tested negative for the disease.

Persela Lamongan, who were bottom of the league when the 2020 Liga 1 season was suspended, are currently re-thinking their preparation for the restart, while at the same time anxiously waiting for the results of their own COVID-19 tests. Persebaya Surabaya, on the other hand, have decided to postpone all training sessions until further notice. The Bajul Ijo, who had 4 players and 2 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, were the strongest voices against the restart of Indonesian football and they had no problems with the postponement.

“We’ve always been against the league’s restart since there’s no clear guidelines in regards to it,” said Persebaya secretary Ram Surahman.

Newly promoted Persiraja Banda Aceh slammed both the PSSI and league operators PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) for the decision to postpone the season, the latter in particular. The Lantak Laju felt that all relevant stakeholders related to Indonesian football should have discussed permits with the Indonesian Police in advance and not in the last minute, as the proposed restart was only two days away from coming into fruition before news broke out that the police have denied permits to hold football matches.

“The LIB are very unprofessional in handling the restart,” said Persiraja general secretary Rahmat Djailani, “The first thing that they should’ve done once announcing the league’s restart is to discuss permits with the Indonesian Police.”

Rahmat’s displeasure was quite reasonable. As a team based outside the island of Java, Persiraja were required to relocate their home games to a neutral venue within Java once the league restarts. The 2019 Liga 2 third-placers have chosen PS Sleman’s Maguwoharjo Stadium as their temporary home base and were scheduled to host PSM Makassar there on October 4th should the restart commenced on schedule. The Laskar Tanah Rencong had prepared themselves in advance for the restart only to have their hopes crushed with the postponement.

“We hope that the LIB would provide subsidies for the next month to compensate for this postponement,” said Rahmat.