U-20 World Cup Draw Curbed After Protests Over Israel's Participation Arise
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The draw for FIFA’s U-20 World Cup which was scheduled to take place in Bali, Indonesia next week on March 31 has officially been postponed. This is mainly due to the football organizer’s concerns regarding the protests against Israel’s participation, with one of the most prominent coming from Bali’s governor.
A member of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) executive committee (Exco) Arya Sinulingga in a press conference on March 26 claims that the association had lobbied Bali’s governor I Wayan Koster to soften his stance regarding the matter. However, the results came empty as the lobby was rejected.
I Wayan Koster signed a protest letter rejecting the U-20 World Cup draw from being held in the region he leads. This letter was sent on March 14 to the Indonesian Sports and Youth Minister.
According to Sinulingga, “We have communicated with the Bali governor. But the Bali provincial government stood by their decision,” he explained. “PSSI respects that. PSSI acts as the event organizer. But they rejected their presence and the drawing, and it is difficult for us to remain adamant to hold it there.”
In his statement, it was said that the Bali Provincial Government gave a guarantee when it agreed to host the U-20 World Cup. Due to the rejection of the tournament participants, Arya considered FIFA's decision to cancel the group division agenda fairly reasonable.
However, he did acknowledge that he was bewildered by Bali’s rejection of Israel's presence which could be considered as being made suddenly and unilaterally. This is considering that the Israeli U-20 national team has been confirmed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup after going through the qualifying rounds since June 2022.
“We don’t understand why the rejection came so suddenly. Just right now. But we have to face the situation right now,” said the PSSI Exco member.
Moreover, the letter – issued under the code T.00.426/11470/SEKRET – that was sent by the Bali governor to the Sports and Youth Minister stated; "Regarding the participation of a team from the state of Israel, we convey the point of view that Israel's political policies towards Palestine are not in accordance with the political policies of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, which until now is still a serious problem in regional politics, as well as the absence of diplomatic relations between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Israeli government."
"In this regard, we request that the Minister adopt a policy to ban teams from Israel from competing in the province of Bali.” the letter stated.
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