Southeast Asia Indonesia

Nine Liga 1 Clubs Receive AFC Club Licenses

In an improvement compared to last year, nine out of the Liga 1 Indonesia’s 18 teams were given AFC Club Licenses on Tuesday. This means that should any of the nine clubs finish within the top two places of this season’s Liga 1, they will qualify for the 2022 AFC Cup.

In order for a club to receive an AFC Club License, they must fulfill all five criteria set by the confederation – sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administrative, legal, and financial. All 18 clubs of the 2021/22 Liga 1 season applied for an AFC Club License, but following a meeting on Tuesday from the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI)’s Executive Committee, only half of those receive an AFC Club License.

Still, compared to previous years, this has been a huge improvement in terms of the number of clubs being deemed eligible for an AFC Club License.

Usual suspects Arema FC and Persib Bandung were among the Liga 1’s AFC Club License recipients, having always been licensed by the AFC since 2017. Last year’s recipients Bhayangkara FC, Borneo FC, Bali United, and Persija Jakarta were also awarded AFC Club Licenses, the latter having been upgraded from “provisional” to “unconditional.”

Having not received an AFC Club License in 2020, both Madura United and Persebaya Surabaya will be pleased that they are officially licensed by the AFC, while a surprise addition to the Liga 1 clubs receiving their AFC Club License was PSM Makassar.

The Juku Eja were plagued with financial troubles since the 2020 Liga 1 season was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the point that they were almost unable to participate in this season’s Liga 1 due to unpaid wages as well as having a registration ban slapped onto them by FIFA. PSM’s Andi Mattalatta Stadium had fallen into a state of severe disrepair following the league’s cancellation, however, the club had been working hard in renovating their stadium to meet AFC standards, as well as striking up a partnership with the government of the nearby city of Parepare to use their BJ Habibie Stadium for the time being.

PSM had also settled their arrears before the start of the season, thus allowing them to receive their AFC Club License.

Notable omissions from Indonesia’s AFC Club License recipients include cash-strapped Persipura Jayapura, who had received a license back in 2020. PSS Sleman, whose management is locked in a tense stand-off with the club’s own fans, were also denied an AFC Club License. The Liga 1’s newest additions – Persik Kediri, Persita Tangerang, and Persiraja Banda Aceh – did not receive their licenses as well, while the Indonesian Army-backed Persikabo 1973 was also denied their continental license.

However, the biggest omission was PSIS Semarang, who have taken the Liga 1 by storm this season. The Mahesa Jenar are the current leaders of the league, having been unbeaten in their eight matches so far with five wins and three draws to their name. It was speculated that PSIS’ failure to receive a continental license was down to their lack of infrastructure – their Jatidiri Stadium was still undergoing massive renovations until this day, while their Citarum Stadium is deemed unsuitable for AFC matches.

Despite having used the Moch. Soebroto Stadium in Magelang for their matches in recent years, as well as the presence of Persis Solo’s newly-renovated Manahan Stadium within their locale, PSIS were reluctant to “bend the rules” for their AFC Club License application, though they still have two weeks to file an appeal for a provisional license similar to what Persija did last year.