The 2020 Indonesian football season has officially been cancelled by the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) due to the ever-increasing cases of COVID-19 within Indonesia and the establishment of a Large-Scale Social Restriction (PSBB) within the islands of Java and Bali by the Indonesia central government. The decision was made on Wednesday in a meeting held by the PSSI’s executive committee, with the federation having received inputs regarding the future of the 2020 season from Liga 1 and Liga 2 club owners in the days building up towards Wednesday’s meeting.
On January 15th, league operators PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) held a virtual meeting with owners of clubs from both the Liga 1 Indonesia and the Liga 2 Indonesia, with the main focus of the meeting being discussing the continuation of the 2020 football season. A huge majority of club owners within the meeting agreed that the 2020 season should be scrapped together with Indonesian football being resumed from the start of the 2021 season. The general consensus prior to the meeting is for the league to be held from early 2021 towards the year’s halfway mark, utilizing a 2020-21 calendar, however PSM Makassar, alongside fellow Liga 1 sides Persita Tangerang, PS Sleman, Barito Putera and Borneo FC, suggested that the leagues should restart from the 2021 season, with all results from the 2020 season being declared null and void.
The PSSI agreed wholeheartedly to the club owners’ sentiments – with the establishment of the PSBB making obtaining police permits for league matches next to impossible – and on Wednesday’s executive committee meeting, the federation officially cancels the 2020 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons, with all existing results from the two competitions being declared null and void. The PSSI summed up Wednesday’s meeting into four important points.
The first point is the cancellation of the 2020 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons due to the force majeure that is the COVID-19 pandemic, with all results and records from the two competitions being declared null and void. The null and void of all results and records led to the second point of the meeting, which is the announcement that the 2020 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons will have no winners and no teams being relegated. This means that Persib Bandung, current leaders of the 2020 Liga 1 season with three wins out of three, were not crowned as champions of the cancelled season.
The third point of the meeting is that the clubs contesting the 2021 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons will be the same clubs that have contested the cancelled 2020 season, while the final point from PSSI’s executive committee is that clubs shall refer to the force majeure clause of their players, coaches, and staffs’ contracts in order to resolve any financial and legal obligations from the 2020 season.
The club owners, through PT LIB, have suggested to the PSSI that the federation should sort out permits with the Indonesian Police first before settling on a fixed starting date for the 2021 season, while PT LIB have vowed to obtain COVID-19 vaccines for Liga 1 and Liga 2 clubs.
PSSI’s decision on Wednesday closed a 10-month period of uncertainty regarding both the Liga 1 and the Liga 2, with the competitions having been suspended since mid-March. Both the PSSI and PT LIB tried their best in setting up a resumption date for the 2020 season, however the failure to obtain crowd permits from the Indonesian Police meant that a plan to resume both the Liga 1 and Liga 2 in October 2020 was scrapped. Another plan to resume the leagues before the end of 2020 was once again scuppered by the Indonesian Police, with December 2020’s Indonesian General Elections being the reason behind the police’s objection towards restarting the leagues.
The prolonged period of limbo for Indonesian football has affected clubs negatively, with no income being generated from match revenues and sponsors being unsure on whether they should provide funds to something that is uncertain. Domestic players had to take up secondary jobs to provide their families, their main sources of income being lost by the suspension of competitive football. Foreign players started to leave Liga 1 clubs in droves, with the likes of Arema FC, Persik Kediri, and Persiraja Banda Aceh releasing all of their foreign contingent as they were worried for their livelihoods throughout this period of limbo.
Refusing to allow such uncertainties to happen again, clubs have been requesting both the PSSI and PT LIB to act more seriously in preparing for the 2021 season, with constant communication with the Indonesian Police to obtain permits being a priority and a proper roadmap for clubs to prepare for the 2021 season being another one, with the roadmap including how clubs should guarantee the contracts of their players, coaches, and staffs both financially and legally and how sponsors should plan their funding for clubs – the two elements being noticeably omitted from the results of Wednesday’s meeting.
The PSSI will discuss more about preparing the 2021 season in their yearly congress at the end of February, while clubs has been suggesting for the 2021 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons to start after the Hari Raya Lebaran celebrations in the middle of year.