Indonesia lifts freeze on national football body

JAKARTA • Indonesia has lifted sanctions on its national football body (PSSI), the sports minister said yesterday, hoping to end the country's international exile by Fifa.

Indonesia's sports ministry froze the PSSI and the South-east Asian nation's football competition following a row over which teams could play in the top league.

But world body Fifa suspended Indonesia last May for government interference, a move which bars its teams from international competition.

In an effort to resolve the crisis, the government said it had repealed its ban on the PSSI.

"Last night, after I signed the letter to lift the sanctions, we sent a letter to Fifa straight away so they could take note," said Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi.

The move comes a day before Fifa's congress in Mexico City, where Indonesia will now hope to win reinstatement.

Indonesian officials met Fifa president Gianni Infantino last month in a bid to break the impasse, but a resolution has remained elusive.

Football in Indonesia has been dogged by problems for years, from the creation of a breakaway association that tore the football establishment apart, to cases of foreign players dying after going unpaid and being unable to afford medical treatment.

Mr Nahrawi said the government was confident the PSSI would push the reforms necessary to clean up the game in Indonesia, where football is wildly popular.

"The government believes the PSSI will coordinate with the government, the clubs and Fifa to implement a total reform in football," the minister said.

An interim eight-month competition was launched in April, but the sports ministry said this was not a replacement for Indonesia's top-flight league.

It is not yet clear when the national competition will resume.

Indonesia last month expressed interest in holding the 2023 edition of the region's biggest football competition, the Asian Cup.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia lifts freeze on national football body'. Print Edition | Subscribe