Monday, January 17, 2011

Football graft

Indonesia Corruption Watch called in a news conference for a thorough audit of the much-maligned Indonesian Football Association’s (PSSI) finances, which the group said lacked transparency.

Abdullah Dahlan, a researcher at ICW, said they would use the Freedom of Information Law, newly enacted six months ago, to ask the PSSI to open its books. He said they would also request the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) to audit the association.

Earlier, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said it had found indications of possible misuse of PSSI funds set aside for the improvement of teams nationwide.

The PSSI annually receives Rp 27 billion ($3 million) from the Indonesian Super League, a subsidy of Rp 2.2 billion from FIFA and Rp 4.5 billion in foreign-player registration fees, Koran Tempo reported last week. It also collected the proceeds of fines from discipline violations totalling around Rp 4.5 billion last year, adding to donations from businessmen and ticket sales from events such as the hot-selling Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

PSSI treasurer Achsanul Qasasi said the association was audited annually by a public accountant. He also argued that FIFA, the international governing body of football, routinely checked PSSI’s use of the annual subsidy.

“We have always been audited. [We] are transparent,” Achsanul told the Jakarta Globe. “What kind of transparency are these people asking? Do they want to tear apart our financial reports?”

He said the PSSI would welcome financial data requests as well as a BPK investigation, even though the association, which is not a state institution, is not under the audit body’s auspices.

“We receive funds from the state budget through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs. We are accountable to the ministry for the funds,” he said.

Football clubs also get a slice of regional government budgets — a fact that ICW strongly criticized.According to Tempo, each club received Rp 8 billion to Rp 15 billion last year from regional funds.

Abdullah said these funds, which went to 17 of 18 ISL clubs, were being spent “without clear accountability” and could be misused by

Velix Wanggai, the presidential adviser for regional autonomy and development, said this budget system should be scrapped. The money should be used for training young athletes and improving sports facilities, he said.

“Many football fields in the country have not met the standards of a [suitable] field,” he said. “There are even clubs that don’t have their own pitch, like Persipura Jayapura.”

I Gusti Kompyang Manila, a former manager of the national football team, cited the recently launched Indonesian Premier League, a breakaway from the PSSI-sanctioned ISL, as proof that some teams are aiming to succeed without financial support from regional governments.

Manila said scrutiny of the PSSI’s management and finances would keep the association in top form. “This is the right momentum needed to improve our football management,” he said at Sunday’s press conference.

If many were opposed to the regional budget allocation for football clubs, Achsanul said, then the system should be changed. In the first place, he said, the PSSI had “never asked for any province to give budgets to clubs.”  - JG.

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