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PSSI Secretary-General: Whatever I do, It Will be Wrong
Ratu Tisha Destria, PSSI Secretary-General at PSSI office in Kuningan, South Jakarta, July 20, 2017. TEMPO/Nurdiansah
Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 | 20:54 WIB
PSSI Secretary-General: Whatever I do, It Will be Wrong

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE disarray within the Indonesia League 1 over the last week pushed the Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) into the spotlight. The direction of the competition changed after the PSSI Disciplinary Commission punished Mitra Kukar with a 0-3 defeat because it had fielded a player who was not allowed to play in a game against Bhayangkara FC on November 3. Accusations were leveled that the decision was biased in favor of one of the clubs. With the addition of those three points, Bhayangkara FC then displaced Bali United at the top of the final standings. "Stop imagining the PSSI wants Bhayangkara FC to be a champion," stressed PSSI Secretary-General Ratu Tisha Destria.

The chaos began after a red card was given to Mitra Kukar halfback Mohamed Sissoko in a game against Borneo FC on October 23. But Mitra Kukar then fielded Sissoko against Bhayangkara FC, that ended in a one-all draw. In fact, at that time Sissoko was still not allowed to play. As a result, the PSSI Disciplinary Commission annulled the draw and awarded a 3-0 win to Bhayangkara FC, as well as then naming the club, now owned by the Indonesian Police, as champion. This final result drew reactions from a number of other clubs, such as Bali United, which had held a party to celebrate it being the true champion, and Madura United, both of whom then described the competition as a farce. 

Traces of disarray within League 1 could already be seen earlier during the competition. The league, the first allowed after the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) rescinded its earlier penalty of Indonesia, has 18 participating clubs. Not a single one holds a PSSI-issued national club license. Recently the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) issued five of the clubs with licenses, with three of these being granted subject to conditions. "Our football is still in a transition period. There could be a real fuss if the PSSI imposed a rule requiring national clubs to be licensed," commented Tisha, 31.

The PSSI’s policy of using foreign referees is also being criticized, as they often mistakenly blow their whistles. The latest incident occurred when Shaun Evans from Australia would not acknowledge a goal by Ezechiel N’Douassel, a Persib Bandung forward. The game against Persija Jakarta earlier this month ended up with Persib refusing to continue the game after 83 minutes.

Last Thursday evening Tisha met Tempo reporters Reza Maulana, Egi Adyatama, and Raymundus Rikang at the Grand Zuri Hotel in Bekasi, West Java, following a tryout game of the U-23 Indonesia national team against the Syria. Although since early that morning she had been rushing around organizing the national team’s preparations for the 2018 Asian Games, Tisha’s voice and gaze did not weaken in the slightest during the question and answer session that went on until nearly midnight.

The recent decisions of the PSSI Disciplinary Commission over the last few weeks of League 1 have ignited controversy. What really happened?

The penalty applied to Mitra Kukar player Mohamed Sissoko was given three days before they played Bhayangkara FC. The PSSI Disciplinary Committee sent the club an e-mail about the penalty. A copy also went to Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB, the league operator), which has a legal instrument called a Prohibition on Playing Notice (NLB). LIB has already admitted to administrative negligence in not sending out the NLB prior to the match. The penalty imposed was for the player to miss two matches. The issue of Mitra Kukar being penalized with a 0-3 loss and fined, well, those are the consequence of its violations because the disciplinary code mandates them.

Why was the club then penalized for the negligence of the league operator?

The substance of that was not the negligence. The PSSI will certainly evaluate the league operator separately. But the club involved did field a player who was not allowed to play. Whenever a player who is penalized is fielded, well, the penalty must still be given according to the applicable rules. The PSSI is mandated to uphold the regulations, so why were we than put under pressure when we tried to do just that?

There is no tendency to favor one of the clubs?

Stop imagining negative things about the PSSI; that this decision was made because I wanted Bhayangkara FC to be champion. That is mistaken. People’s imaginations conjure up assumptions that make no sense whatsoever, because of the current flood of information they get. If I had not applied the penalty of stopping the player from playing, people could then have easily accused the PSSI of treating Bali United as its ‘favored son’ to become league champion. Whatever I do, I will be wrong.

Mitra Kukar did not read the e-mail from the Disciplinary Commission as it was sent to its CEO Endri Erawan. Is that a normal correspondence practice?

At the start of the competition, each club completed a number of forms for us, including routes for communications and e-mail addresses. It was left up to each to nominate who their contact person was. What is clear is that PSSI considered that to be the formal route for communications with that club.

Do you have any plans to improve your procedures?

The NLB issuance by the league operator certainly does need to be improved. These notices must become formal instruments as clubs are greatly dependent on those documents to field their squads. That means the league operator must improve its professionalism. There can be no acceptable reason for it to not issue an NLB, as that is one of the instruments for evaluating club empowerment. But clubs must also be accountable for their own administrative records if they want to be known as professionals.

The League is running with only five of its 18 clubs licensed. How can that be?

Those licenses are for those hoping to participate in the AFC competition, not the national club ones issued by the PSSI. The AFC license is a system for overall selection of those clubs that are ready to join the all-Asia level competition. Because those clubs in the AFC must meet all kinds of requirements, their financials must be strong so they can compete against the others.

Does the PSSI not yet have a license system for our national clubs?

National competitions where all the clubs are licensed exist in those countries where domestic competitions have never been interrupted, where their organizations have never shut down. Whereas for five to seven years in the past the PSSI was as dormant is if it was struck by lightning. I do want to have our national clubs all licensed in the near future. Look at the J-League in Japan where they needed three years to get their licensing system right after they started. During that period they never had any team promotions or degradations.

Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine.

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