Football: Fifa holds crisis talks with Indonesian president over competition ban

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (right) receives a gift from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) delegation Mariano Araneta (left).
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (right) receives a gift from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) delegation Mariano Araneta (left).PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday met Fifa officials in Jakarta for crisis talks, nearly six months after football's governing body banned his country from international competition.

Indonesia was suspended in May after the government attempted to replace the country's football association, known as the PSSI, at the height of a long-running feud.

The government insisted that taking on the PSSI, which has long been dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, was a necessary step to clean up Indonesian football, which has for years been beset by crises.

Fifa responded by suspending the PSSI and banning Indonesia from all international competitions organised by Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation, one of six regional federations that make up the world football body.

Mr Widodo, hosting the Fifa meeting at the state palace, announced he would form a task force to quickly end the impasse.

"I conveyed to the delegation... that we want to get a solution immediately and to form a task force which will communicate continuously with Fifa," he told reporters.

"They were happy to see there was no flexing of muscles and that we wanted a solution, too."

The row erupted in April when the PSSI, disagreeing with the country's sports ministry over the participation of two clubs, halted Indonesia's top league.

The ministry responded by freezing all PSSI activities and setting up a transitional body to begin replacing the association.

Fifa, which disapproves of political interference in domestic associations, backed the PSSI, which insisted it remained in charge of football in Indonesia.

The six-man Fifa delegation also met Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi and PSSI officials to discuss resolving the stalemate.

He said the meeting was "very valuable" and the visitors offered a "very friendly and constructive response".

"The government is very concerned about reforming Indonesian football," he told reporters.

"There have been clear indications, and in fact confessions, about match-fixing, gambling, delayed salary payments and clubs flouting Fifa statutes relating to financial transparency, taxes and rules."

A press conference by Fifa is expected on Tuesday.