Indonesia can do better than to sign Mourinho
There's nothing quite like Indonesian football and in recent years, that has not been a compliment.
The country's Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi is sure that FIFA's international ban, imposed a year ago for political interference in the governance of the game, will be lifted this week.
The dispute arose when the Youth and Sports Ministry clashed with the national association, known locally as PSSI, in 2015 over the eligibility of some clubs to compete in the Indonesia Super League. The government then 'froze' the federation, leading to sanctions from FIFA.
With the government reportedly restoring PSSI's legal status on Tuesday, there is a good chance that the ban could end at FIFA's congress currently being held in Mexico City. The sport's governing body wants to lift the suspension from this country of 250 million or so people. Discussions are ongoing in the Mexican capital but the signs are promising. It could be good news.
So confident is Minister Nahrawi that the punishment for political interference will be lifted that he revealed he and the country's president Joko Widodo have already discussed who the next national team coach should be. Jose Mourinho is, apparently, top of the list.
"This plan has been discussed with President Joko Widodo and the Chairman of the Indonesian Olympics Committee, Erick Thohir (owner of Inter Milan), even though this won’t be easy," Nahrawi reportedly said on Tuesday. "When I asked Erick, Mourinho's salary is about Rp250 billion [equivalent to £13million or €16.5million] per year," Nahrawi said.
You couldn't make it up. Giving assurances to FIFA that the government will not get involved in the running of the game in one breath and then announcing to domestic media that there have been talks at the highest levels of government regarding the identity of the next head coach of the national team seems to come straight out of the Donald Trump election playbook.
Could it be that the ban will be lifted and the reinstated at the same FIFA Congress? That is not entirely serious but still likelier than the possibility of hiring Mourinho as head coach of the Indonesian national team.
At least the politician admitted that it would be difficult to hire the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid coach who is being heavily-linked with a move to Manchester United.
That possibility was made likelier this week by the Red Devils' defeat at West Ham United which takes qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League out of the club's hands and increases uncertainty over Louis Van Gaal's future.
It is hard to remember any occasion in recent years when Indonesian football made international headlines for something that was not terrible, tragic or just silly.
And while these latest remarks have caused much mirth around the world it is actually quite sad. The statement reveals the kind of thinking that exists in the upper echelons of Indonesian sport and politics.
It shows that the people who make the decisions don't have any idea of what is going on or what is needed. At a time when the country's football scene has been hugely damaged by the direct actions by politicians, to openly talk about hiring one of the most in-demand coaches in the world and spending huge amounts of money to do so is ludicrous.
Even if Mourinho actually wanted to come it still would be a bad idea. There is no point hiring a world famous coach when you are bottom of the pile –and a FIFA ranking of 185 is certainly down there. There are plenty of local coaches who can stabilise the situation –which is what is needed –in the short to medium term.
The likes of South Korea, Japan and Australia have found in the past that the best time to hire a big-name and experienced foreign coach is when you are have reached a point where that extra little edge can make a difference.
If Indonesia were consistently the best team in Southeast Asia but wanted to become an Asian titan, or, even better, were one of Asia's elites but wanted to become a global contender –then thinking big can help.
At the moment however, the national team is not even a priority.
When the ban is lifted, the hard work starts to repair the damage that it caused. There was no league football last year. The money that would be spent on a world famous foreign coach could be used to help players, coaches and officials who have gone without salary.
And then there are the youth programs that need to be repaired, restored and re-introduced. All the coaches, domestic and foreign, that walked away have to be replaced or tempted back into the game.
Talking of spending big on a big-name coach is misguided given the money that has been lost by clubs because of the lack of games, the lack of corporate involvement and the lack of participation in the AFC Cup.
The PSSI has lost out too after the national team was unable to take part in qualification for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup.
So there is plenty to do just to get back to where the country was before the ban was issued and let's not forget, all was not exactly fantastic then.
But that's Indonesian football and there's nothing quite like it.