JAKARTA: Indonesia has lifted sanctions on its national football body the PSSI, the sports minister said on Wednesday, hoping to end the country’s international exile by FIFA.
Indonesia’s sports ministry froze the PSSI and the Southeast Asian nation’s football competition following a row over which teams could play in the top league.
But world body FIFA suspended Indonesia last May for government interference, a move which bars its teams from international competition.
In an effort to resolve the crisis, the government said it had repealed its ban on the PSSI.
“Last night, after I signed the letter to lift the sanctions, we sent a letter to FIFA straight away so they could take note,” said sports minister Imam Nahrawi.
The move comes just days before FIFA’s congress on May 12 in Mexico City, where Indonesia will now hope to win reinstatement.
Indonesian officials met last month with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in a bid to break the impasse, but a resolution has so far remained elusive.
Football in Indonesia has been dogged by problems for years, from the creation of a breakaway association that tore the football establishment apart to cases of foreign players dying after going unpaid and being unable to afford medical treatment.
Nahrawi said the government was confident the PSSI would push the reforms necessary to clean up the game in Indonesia, where football is wildly popular.
“The government believes the PSSI will coordinate with the government, the clubs and FIFA to implement a total reform in football,” Nahrawi told Agence France-Presse.
An interim eight-month competition was launched in April, but the sports ministry said this was not a replacement for Indonesia’s top-flight league.
It’s not yet clear when national competition will resume.
Indonesia last month expressed interest in holding the 2023 edition of the region’s biggest football competition, the Asian Cup.
Indonesia wants Mourinho
As former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho mulls his next move, an unlikely suitor has emerged in the form of the Indonesian national team.
Indonesian Sports Minster Imam Nahrawi has announced that he wants Mourinho, who has been out of work since December after being sacked by Chelsea, to train the country’s national side.
Mourinho has been widely linked to Manchester United where Louis van Gaal has spent most of the season under siege, but Nahrawi hopes the 53-year-old Portuguese might pick sun-kissed, tropical Indonesia over chilly northwest England.
“This has been discussed with President Joko Widodo,” Nahrawi was quoted as saying by state-run news agency Antara on Monday in Jakarta.
However Nahrawi conceded that it was “not an easy thing to do”, particularly given the high cost of hiring Mourinho.
In addition, Mourinho would be landed with a team that currently cannot even compete internationally after FIFA suspended Indonesia in May last year over allegations of government interference.
The crisis began when the government sought to remove the football association due to a row over which teams could participate in the country’s top league, and the domestic game ground to a halt soon afterwards.
An interim league kicked off at the end of last month, but authorities and the football association are still at loggerheads and the FIFA suspension remains in place. The national side is ranked 185th by FIFA.
If efforts to net Mourinho fails, Indonesia has a plan B — they will go after Chelsea’s interim manager, Guus Hiddink.
“Hiddink costs a little less,” Nahrawi said.
The approach to Mourinho came after Indonesia last month threw its hat into the ring to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, despite the FIFA ban.
The Indonesian proposition is the second unusual offer for Mourinho in recent times after war-ravaged Syria sounded him out about managing their national team.
Mourinho insisted he would be back in management by summer — but not with Syria.