West News Wire: FIFA announced in a statement that Indonesia has lost the right to hold the Under-20 World Cup after protests against Israel’s participation resulted in the cancellation of the competition’s main draw.
Following a meeting with Erick Thohir, President of the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI), the world’s governing body of football made its announcement on Wednesday. It promised to name a new host nation “as soon as possible,” with the competition scheduled to begin on May 20.
After Bali’s governor rejected hosting Israel’s squad on the largely Hindu island, PSSI postponed the tournament’s draw until Monday.
Despite having the largest Muslim majority in the world and no official diplomatic ties to Israel, Indonesia openly supports the Palestinian cause.
“FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023,” a FIFA statement said.
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.”
Earlier this month, protesters marched in the capital Jakarta waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags and demanding Israel not be allowed to participate.
“Indonesia is a FIFA member, so for any international soccer matters, we have to abide by the rules,” Thohir said in a statement on PSSI’s website.
“I ask all football lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision by FIFA. It’s time we proved to FIFA to work harder to transform soccer, towards clean and high-achieving soccer.”
On Tuesday, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo spoke against mixing matters of “sports and politics”.
“I hereby guarantee Israel’s participation has nothing to do with the consistency of our foreign policy position towards Palestine, because our support for Palestine is always strong and sturdy,” he said in a livestreamed address.