Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Indonesian football also ready for change

Football authorities in Cambodia and Singapore have signalled their intentions to move forward and improve the standard of the game in their respective countries. And in Malang, yesterday, any lingering chill will likely dissipate as the hot air begins to flow in an effort to find the root of Indonesian football’s problems.

These countries want and are ready for change. For change to take place, one has to admit you have failed and need help. How about Malaysia? Since National Sports Council (NSC) is doing most of the things, maybe they should also realise the need for some drastic measures.

Meanwhile stakeholders from around Indonesia will begin hashing out the issues at the National Football Congress (Kongres Sepakbola Nasional, or KSN), which came about after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono aired his concerns on the country’s waning football fortunes.

The KSN, which started Monday and ends tomorrow, was organized by the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) with help from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Indonesia National Sports Committee (KONI). The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) is an invitee to the event, as are the clubs, players and supporters.

Yudhoyono officially opened the congress, and the pressure to reform the PSSI and unseat chairman Nurdin Halid has started building up.

However, Persisam Samarinda manager Herbiansyah said any efforts to dismiss Nurdin would be rejected.

“There will be no agenda to bring down Nurdin Halid. We will select a new chairman during the PSSI congress in 2011. We put our full support in the PSSI statutes,” he said.

Nurdin has held his post since 2003, when he was elected to replace Agum Gumelar at the PSSI national congress. He was re-elected in 2007.

His time in charge has been marked by controversy and a downturn in international success. This year, the senior national team failed to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time since 1992, and the Under-23 team bowed out of the 2009 Southeast Asian Games after an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Laos.

Nurdin also ran the PSSI from behind bars in 2005 and 2006 after being found guilty of illegally importing rice. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail but only served 12 months after having the rest of his sentence commuted by the government.

Nurdin reminded supporters that the KSN is not an official PSSI event, and as such any results are not binding.

“Only PSSI members, which includes the PSSI provincial offices and clubs, can ask for my resignation before my second term ends in 2011, through an extraordinary meeting. Until now, none of them has asked for that meeting,” he said.

KSN chairman Agum Gumelar said the goal of the event was to find solution to improve Indonesian football.

“We’ll just seek recommendations for the PSSI and, of course, they are not legally binding,” Agum said. “That will be up to the PSSI to do the recommendations or not. But those recommendations, I think, will be a strong pressure on the PSSI to reform the association and revamp national football.”

Those expecting dramatic change after the KSN would do well to temper their expectations, and not just because of perceived stubbornness from the PSSI.

World governing body FIFA has shown little patience for outside entities meddling with its members. It suspended Kuwait, Iraq and Brunei Darussalam in recent years for what it deemed to be political interference.

Still, Sriwijaya FC manager Hendri Zainuddin said the PSSI must be reformed.

“The organizers and government representatives lack coordination. They should give us a guarantee if they wanted our support. We’ll still wait and see. We agree the PSSI needs to be reformed, but it has to comply with the PSSI statutes,” he said.

Former national team coach Sinyo Aliandoe took a much harsher view, calling for a complete reorganization of the PSSI.

“The PSSI has to be changed totally. Nurdin has to step down and the PSSI has to be rejuvenated. If he refuses to step down, the National Sports Committee must suspensd the PSSI’s membership,” Sinyo said.

While FIFA would likely take a dim view of such drastic action, it would finally signal a concerted effort to have someone take responsibility for the country’s downturn on the field.

The senior team suffered an 11-1 aggregate loss to Syria in the second round of World Cup qualifying in 2007. Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand have all pulled ahead of Indonesia in the region, with domestic clubs similarly falling behind their peers.

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