Two months have passed since the Minister of Youth & Sports Imam Nahrawi froze the Indonesian football association PSSI. Today, the country’s football sports remain in limbo. Competitions stopped, and the world football association FIFA banned Indonesia from participating in international and regional competitions. With the lack of progress in this so-called war against football mafia, we can’t help but wonder what’s wrong.

So what exactly has happened ever since the open war declaration? There’s the statement from Minister Imam asking the police and other law enforcement institutions to investigate mafia practices in the country’s management of football, following allegation of match fixing in the Sea Games football competition in Singapore. And then there’s the meeting between Minister Imam and Chairman of the 2011-2015 PSSI Djohar Arifin.

We understand that reforming PSSI is not a walk in the park. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect progree. The fact is that the Minister, despite having formed a “transition team”, have done nothing more beyond talking, and talking. We’re concerned that this is yet another example of empty political rhetoric for improving Indonesia’s football sports management, much like what happened during the reign of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

Being able to demonstrate real results in the process of reforming Indonesia’s football league will not only help President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gain popularity, it would also help the President  consolidate his power knowing football is the most popular sport in the country. But again, at the very least, there should be work done for the sake of outcome, such as:

  1. Ordering the police and or other law enforcement institutions to launch a thorough investigation into those allegedly involved in mafia practices in the PSSI and the country’s football. To do so, Minister Imam and his Transition Team must go to the police and or other law enforcement institutions with enough data and evidence to help the police build a case;
  2. Corralling the support of all parties, including football clubs, in reforming the country’s management of football;
  3. Conducting PSSI’s extraordinary congress to choose the new PSSI chairman and the new PSSI management in order to quickly restarting competition;
  4. Reviewing the country’s football regulations, especially requiring PSSI, the league promoter, and all football clubs to be transparent in their management;

The above are steps the transition team can do in the short term. Other steps must also be taken for the medium and long term goals such as (1) the improvement of football facilities; (2) the improvement of football academies; and (3) the improvement of senior and youth competitions.

Genuine interest must be followed with actions. Without actions, Minister Imam will be the same as his predecessors. The talk about reforming PSSI would be just that: talks.  Without progress in the following week or two, the public will grow even more anxious and skeptical of Minister Imam Nahrawi’s ability. Should this eventuate with a great disappointment, the person to be most hurt would be President Jokowi. It’s in the interest of the President to keep a close eye on this process and to dive in if necessary.


By Haryanto Suharman

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