Southeast Asia Indonesia

Vaccination Rules Meant that Liga 1 Clubs are Understrength in the Opening Matchweeks

The 2021/22 Liga 1 Indonesia season has gone into full swing, with the first matchweek being played out over the end of August and early September. However, a number of teams found themselves being severely understrength thanks to the vaccination regulations set by both league operators PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB) and the Indonesian government.

The Liga 1 vaccination regulations stipulate that all players and staff members participating in the league must already receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, be it Sinovac or AstraZeneca. Should one only receive one dose or have yet to receive the vaccine at all, they are barred from participating in the league until they could get their vaccinations sorted out.

With this regulation in mind, a number of teams were unable to field some of their players due to them having yet to attain the mandatory amount of vaccination doses.

2019 runners-up Persebaya Surabaya were thrashed 3-1 by Borneo FC in their opening match, with the Bajul Ijo fielding a severely understrength side at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium. All four of their new foreign signings – Brazilians Bruno and Jose Wilkson, former Leicester City youngster Alie Sesay of Sierra Leone, and Japanese Taisei Marukawa – were unable to take the pitch on September 4th due to them having yet to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The quartet are set for a lengthy absence as they took the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose interval between the first dose and the second one spans for a whopping three months. Having received their first shot in August, Persebaya’s four foreigners are unavailable for selection until at least November.

Persebaya weren’t the only ones affected by this vaccine regulation. Persita Tangerang and Persela Lamongan were also unable to field out their strongest lineups as a number of their foreigners have yet to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine doses. However, unlike Persebaya, both Persita and Persela are set to field their full compliment of foreigners sooner than later.

Both Alex Goncalves and Bae Sin-yeong are set to make their Persita debuts in Matchweek 3, joining the likes of Adam Mitter and Harrison Cardoso in the Pendekar Cisadane lineup, while Persela will be able to field both Demerson and Ivan Carlos this weekend as the Laskar Joko Tingkir take on Persipura Jayapura in Matchweek 2.

Another club affected by the Liga 1 vaccine regulation is Persib Bandung. However, unlike Persebaya, Persita, or Persela, Persib’s case was rather unique as their Dutch striker Geoffrey Castillion had completed his vaccination while he was in Europe.

The problem was, the vaccine Castillion took was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose unlike Sinovac and AstraZeneca. This caused some issue with the Liga 1 vaccine regulation as it was stressed that players should have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine should they wish to play in the league.

Right now Persib are trying to appeal a dispensation for Castillion as he had completed his vaccination despite the different nature of his vaccine, but while this is ongoing, the Maung Bandung are unable to play their Dutch danger man.

LIB chief Akhmad Hadian Lukita had this to say about the league’s vaccine regulation, as quoted from, “The league’s vaccination regulation is something that has already been set by the Indonesian government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, so it is non-negotiable. Players should have both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine if they want to participate in the league.”

The league operators are well aware about players having yet to receive their second vaccine dose well into the season as well as players being unable to input their vaccination data into the national database, especially foreigners as they don’t have an Indonesian ID number. With this in mind, the LIB are coordinating with the Indonesian government to perform a manual validation process that would help input the foreign player’s vaccination data into the national database, which in turn would allow them to represent their team in the league.