Indonesia weeks away from international ban

SINGAPORE, March 10 (Reuters) - The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) has weeks to gain control of a popular rebel league in the country or face international exile, its secretary general said on Thursday.

Nugraha Besoes told Reuters that if the PSSI failed to curtail the three-month old Indonesian Premier League (LPI) by the end of May, world governing body FIFA had warned it the national team could be banned.

"If it (LPI) is still going on (after May) FIFA will ban us and we will be stranded," Besoes said in a telephone interview.

Asked whether he thought LPI bosses should think of the Indonesian people more and close the competition to avoid any possible ban, Besoes was adamant.

"Yes, they should think more of them because if they (LPI) still want to keep their own position it might create dangers for our international football. We could not participate in any international event (or) even play any friendly matches."

A possible ban could deny the country the opportunity to compete in the Southeast Asian Games that they are hosting in November, with the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Asia beginning later this year also.

Besoes explained it would be difficult to rein in the LPI which has attracted teams from the PSSI-supported Indonesia Super League (ISL), a host of southeast Asian players and former England international Lee Hendrie.

"How do we do that? Because it is not easy," Besoes said before expressing concern for the players in the LPI who he said may well join the ISL if the rogue league closes.

"We talk of the players especially. How we want to put them in our organisation. We don't care about the referees, we don't care about the managers, we are very concerned about the players."

ANGRY DEMONSTRATIONS

FIFA is due to hold a two-day congress from May 31 when it would most likely hand out any suspension should the PSSI fail to stop the LPI.

FIFA has also asked the PSSI to arrange a general assembly by March 26 and organise elections by April 30.

Besoes said completing those tasks by the dates was on track and that FIFA had not banned current PSSI head Nurdin Halid from standing in the elections as reported by local media [ID:nL3E7E9176] on Wednesday.

"They (FIFA) didn't mention that," Besoes said. "The names (of candidates being) not eligible is not in the letter, I don't know why (this was said)."

FIFA, though, released a statement on Thursday saying the PSSI appeal committee had invalidated the application of the four candidates running for PSSI presidency without naming them.

Halid, LPI founder Arifin Panigoro and Army Chief of General Staff General George Toisutta had all said previously they had intended to run.

Halid is a controversial figure in Indonesian soccer having served part of his two terms as PSSI head from prison and he has also been asked to answer charges from the House of Representatives over a lack of productivity.

"The past is already the past," Besoes said. "He is a good person, not that I am supporting somebody no, but I know how he has been working for the PSSI."

However, Besoes confirmed Panigoro was banned from standing in the PSSI elections because his involvement with the rogue league meant he had fallen foul of FIFA rules.

Oil tycoon Panigoro launched the LPI in January in defiance of FIFA and there have been angry demonstrations over his ban in Jakarta last month.

Soccer is hugely popular amongst the 230 million population but the national team has slumped to 129th in the FIFA rankings with Panigoro setting up the LPI in an attempt to improve standards.


SHARES
comments